Amid the investigation over fake TRPs of news Channels, Mumbai police has lodged an FIR against Republic TV’s editorial team accusing them of creating disaffection among members of the city’s police force.
According to a report by Times of India, police station N M Joshi Marg registered an offence under Section 3 (1) of the Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922, a Central Act, along with Sections 500 (punishment for defamation) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
The complainant, sub-inspector Shashikant Pawar of Special Branch 1, named Republic TV’s executive editor Niranjan Narayanswamy, deputy editor Shawan Sen, anchor Shivani Gupta, deputy news editor Sagarika Mitra, the newsroom-in-charge, and other editorial staff.
According to the complaint, the accused aired a report which amounted to incitement to disaffection among members of the police force and defamation of Mumbai police, the report said.
The FIR, according to the report, stated that while Pawar was watching Republic TV at around 7 pm on October 22 (Thursday), he saw a slug ‘Biggest Story Tonight,’ with Gupta asking, “Revolt against Parambir? Senior officers part of the probe give details.” The anchor, the complaint said, alleged that Singh was spoiling the name of the police force and using his power to settle personal scores and that many officers were not happy with him.
Quoting Pawar, the report said that complaint alleged that the anchor also said Republic TV had exclusive information that there was rebellion against the Mumbai top cop.
The complaint quoted her as saying on air, “So now rebellion is also brewing within the Mumbai police itself. This is of course a matter of their own institutional credibility… Shawan Sen is in fact following the case very closely and he has confirmed it for us… Parambir Singh is hell-bent on tarnishing the image, singlehandedly tarnishing the image of Mumbai police.”
Pertinently, Republic TV is one of the five channels named in the TRP scam being probed by the Mumbai police.
The Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act of 1922 is a Central statute to provide punishment to anyone who spreads “disaffection among the police.” The Act originally stipulated a punishment of a maximum of six months and fine of Rs 200 or both. Several states have made state-specific amendments to the Act.
In Maharashtra in 1992, the Act was amended to make an offence under it punishable with up to three years of imprisonment or with maximum fine of Rs 5,000 or both. Besides, offences under the Act in Maharashtra were termed ‘cognizable and non-bailable.’
Meanwhile, Republic Media called it a “brazen abuse of office”, which if “left unchecked would have a chilling effect on democracy”.
Late Friday evening, Mumbai police officials reacted sharply to Republic TV’s claim, displayed prominently on-screen, that the FIR was “against 1000 TV staff”. “This is a deliberate attempt at misleading people with fake news,” the report quoted a senior officer as having said.