[TRP Scam] Once document is in public domain, it becomes subject of comment by media: Mumbai Court refuses injunction against Republic TV

The Court observed that Hansa failed to prove the quantum of damage and the loss of reputation caused to it by the disclosure of their internal report on Republic TV.
[TRP Scam] Once document is in public domain, it becomes subject of comment by media: Mumbai Court refuses injunction against Republic TV
TRP Scam, Hansa Research Group and Republic TV

The Mumbai City Civil Court this week refused to grant an ad-interim injunction against ARG Outlier (parent company of Republic TV) and Arnab Goswami from disclosing an internal report of Hansa Research Group and the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

While rejecting the relief sought by Hansa Research Group, City Civil Judge CV Marathe held,

"The plaintiff has been unable to demonstrate even prima facie how irreparable loss and/or prejudice it causes by disclosure of Hansa report by the defendants. Once, the document/matter is in public domain it becomes a legitimate subject of comment by the press and media house among others. Therefore, I do not find merit in the allegations against the defendants and ad-interim relief is rejected."

Mumbai City Civil Court

The Court observed that Hansa failed to prove the quantum of damage and the loss of reputation caused to it by the disclosure of their internal report on Republic TV. The order reads,

"From this mere statement one can not draw a conclusion about the quantum of damage, how the reputation of the plaintiff is damaged and which loss is caused to the plaintiff by reference of Hansa Report in the broadcast of news channel of defendants."

It was further held that it was natural for Republic to defend itself against the charge of manipulation of TRP ratings by disclosing documents in support of its innocence.

The Court also noted that Hansa had not tendered any non-disclosure agreement between itself and BARC about the confidentiality of the communications between them.

The plea for temporary injunction arose after Republic TV revealed during a telecast an internal document exchanged between Hansa and BARC detailing the facts of the investigation against Vishal Bhandari, an ex-employee of Hansa, who allegedly induced viewers to watch particular news channels with a view to boosting TRP figures.

Appearing for Hansa, Advocate ND Jaywant pointed out that there was a contractual obligation on Hansa to not disclose any document to third parties, and by such disclosure on a news broadcast, Hansa’s reputation was damaged.

Phoenix Legal's PD Gandhi, appearing for ARG Outlier and Goswami, made two submissions:

  1. That BARC was not made a party hence right to privacy cannot be granted individually.

  2. That the Hansa Report is published/available on several websites which are accessible to the public at large and only the defendants only cannot be restrained.

Republic TV ran a telecast in which the report was disclosed, after the Mumbai Police issued a press statement stating that they would investigate Republic TV in the TRP Scam case.

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[Read the order]

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Hansa Research v. ARG Outlier.pdf
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