The Uddhav Thackeray government on Wednesday withdrew the general consent extended by Maharashtra to the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe cases in the state. The decision implies that the CBI will need the state’s permission to enter its jurisdiction to carry out any investigation, effectively stripping the central agency of its powers to probe cases in Maharashtra.
At least three non-BJP-ruled states – Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal – have already withdrawn its general consent to let the CBI investigate cases in their jurisdiction.
Officials said the Maharashtra government’s decision would not impact the CBI investigation into the Sushant Singh Rajput death case since this probe is being conducted on orders of the Supreme Court and not under provisions that require a state to give its consent.
Wednesday’s order issued by Maharashtra’s home department comes just a day after the Uttar Pradesh government registered a First Information Report on one aspect of the Television Rating Points case and promptly handed over the case to the CBI.
The Maharashtra government had viewed this move as an attempt by the UP government to lay the foundation for the CBI to wade into the ongoing probe by Mumbai police against Republic TV. Leaders of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra had called the CBI registering the case in the TRP scandal as an attempt to “dilute” the case against Republic TV.
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The Mumbai police probe initiated against Republic TV earlier this month has set up a fresh face-off between the Thackeray-led coalition with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party’s Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA. In this case, the Mumbai police had named Republic TV as one of three channels accused of trying to fudge its television ratings. Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami has denied the charges.
The scam had come to light when rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) complained that certain channels were rigging TRP numbers to lure advertisers.
TRPs of a channel or programme is used to measure the popularity of channels by advertising agencies which affect pricing. The points are calculated in India by BARC using a device installed in over 45,000 households across the country called “Bar-O-Meter”. The device collects data about a programme or channel watched by members of these households on the basis of which weekly ratings are issued by BARC. It was alleged that some families at whose houses metres for collecting data of viewership were installed were being bribed to tune into a particular channel.
Eight people have been arrested by Mumbai police in this case, two of them on Tuesday.