INDIA. Mumbai: Mumbai Police arrested “Maha Movie” television channel’s CEO Sanjay Verma in an alleged copyright violation case and remanded him to police custody till January 25 as directed by Metropolitan Magistrate, on Tuesday.
Verma was arrested in response to a case of copyright violation registered at Juhu police station, which was subsequently transferred to the Crime Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai Police. During a probe, Verma’s alleged role came to light, following which he was questioned by a team led by CIU in-charge assistant police inspector Sachin Waze and was subsequently placed under arrest.
Verma admitted that the “Maha Movie” channel had illegally broadcast movies such as “Zanjeer”, “Lawaris”, “Jadugar”, “Mohabbat Ke Dushman”, “Muqaddar Ka Sikandar” between June 10 to November 10, 2020. Copyrights of these movies are with Punit Mehra’s company, who is the son of film producer late Prakash Mehra. Prakash Mehra had never sold those rights to any other company or individuals.
Earlier, the crime branch had arrested Mohammed Bilal Shaikh alias Raju Khan (42) and Ghanshyam Giri (42) in this case. Besides nine more persons are wanted in the case, who include the proprietors of Zoya Films, Sonam music company and of VIP Films. Also, directors of Tele-One Consumers Pvt Ltd, DV Media Entertainment Ltd, and Darvi Media Entertainment Ltd are in wanted list.
In recently filed charge sheet in the Television Rating Point( TRP) rigging case, the police alleged that an official of Hansa Research Agency paid money to sample households to tune into “Maha Movie”, “Box Cinema”, “Fakt Marathi”, “Republic TV”, “News Nation” and “Wow TV” channels. TRP, measured by recording viewership data at sample households, is crucial for attracting advertisers. The Republic TV and others have denied any wrongdoing.
IMPPA welcomes the police action
The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) on Wednesday welcomed the action by Mumbai Police in arresting Verma. In a statement, IMPPA President TP Aggarwal said “IMPPA was grateful to Mumbai police for prompt action in a copyright violation case.
The IMPPA had lodged complaints with Juhu police and DCP, Bandra in July 2020, requesting them to take immediate action since it was a serious matter of cheating and illegal exploitation of intellectual property and copyright. Narayan Sharma against whom Puneet Mehra had filed the original complaint has obtained anticipatory bail.
Dasgupta denied bail
In another development, the City Sessions Court, Mumbai dismissed the bail application of Partho Dasgupta, ex-CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), who was arrested in the alleged TRP scam case on December 24, 2020. His bail application was reserved for orders, after the Mumbai Police vehemently argued against granting him bail, on Tuesday. Dasgupta was remanded to judicial custody till January 14, 2021 by 8th Esplanade magistrate court last week.
Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hirey read out several Watsapp Watsapp chats between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and Dasputa to display their ‘proximity.’ In one of the chats cited in the supplementary charge sheet, Goswami allegedly offers to mediate with the PMO’s office on behalf of Dasgupta, while in another they speak about manipulating the TRPs of Republic to surpass Times Now. Hirey argued that Dasgupta, in his capacity as the CEO of BARC, was supposed to be a neutral party and that the rise in TRPs of a channel was directly proportional to its ad-revenue. Hirey further submitted that Dasgupta can influence witnesses if he is granted bail.
Dasgupta was the CEO of BARC between June 2013 and November 2019. The Crime Branch has charged him under sections 409(criminal breach of trust by a public servant), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. Advocates Shardul Singh and Arjun Singh argued on behalf of him that there was nothing more left to be recovered from Dasgupta. The chats were not authenticated by a 65B certificate under the Indian Evidence Act. Moreover, a two member Oversight Committee set up by BARC had certified in its report that TRPs cannot be tampered manually.