By Ahmed Ali
An accused in the TRP manipulation scam, Umesh Mishra, who was involved in making payments to households for keeping certain television channels on, has agreed to turn approver for the police, said a source.
Mishra’s decision to turn approver is expected to further bolster the prosecution’s case on rigging of TV viewership figures. It comes in the wake of four other suspects making confessional statements before a magistrate under CrPC 164.
An approver is a person who is usually involved in a crime and seeks pardon after expressing ‘repentance’; he volunteers, without threat or coercion, to provide details of illegalities committed, which he has knowledge of. A trial judge can allow such an accused to turn approver if satisfied that he has voluntarily provided details. An approver does not have to face trial. He has to depose as prosecution witness and can be cross-examined by the defence. If he resiles from his earlier statement his pardon can be forfeited.
Mishra was arrested on October 16 on charges of distributing cash to households to influence TRPs. He was the fifth in a line of suspects to be nabbed, including the owners of two TV channels. In all, five channels including Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema are under probe for trying to boost TRPs, which are a key parameter used by media-buying houses to determine placement of advertisements.
Mishra was released on bail on Monday. The court rejected the bail applications of Bomepalli Mistry, Vinay Tripathi, Shirish Shetty and Narayan Sharma and sent them to judicial custody.
Meanwhile, police have summoned some investors in Republic TV on October 30 to record their statements. Police declined to identify them. Police in a remand application seeking custody of Abhishek Kolwade, the owner of a marketing company called Max Media, had stated that some of the accused in the scam have accepted money from “owners and directors” of three channels — Maha Movie, Republic TV and New Nation.
The court said it appears that Shetty and Sharma paid the money to Mistry to distribute to households. ( TOI )