Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd has lodged a complaint with Mumbai police against Arnab Goswami and Prema Sridevi of Republic TV on grounds of theft, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of property , and infringement of the intellectual property rights of the BCCLowned Times Now channel.Rashmi Karandikar DCP (Operations), who holds additional charge as Mumbai police spokesperson, said, “We have received the complaint and further inquiry is on.“
Police officials confirmed that BCCL had filed a complaint at the Azad Maidan police station under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Information Technology Act of 2000.
Goswami launched his new channel on May 6 by playing tapes of phone conversations between RJD chief Lalu Prasad and jailed former MP Mohammed Shahabuddin.
Two days later, the channel broadcast tapes of phone conversations between Sridevi and Sunanda Pushkar–the since-deceased wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor-and their house-help Narayan.
BCCL in its complaint has stated that an internal inquiry had established that both sets of audio tapes were procured while Goswami and Sridevi were in the employment of Times Now, and which were therefore the property of Times Now. The complaint points out that the two journalists had admitted that the tapes had been in their possession for the last two years–when they were still employees of Times Now.(They both left the channel towards the end of last year.) The BCCL complaint said that Goswami and Sridevi had “wilfully, deliberately and with knowledge converted for their benefit the dishonestly misappropriated intellectual property“. This amounted to criminal misappropriation of property .
BCCL (which publishes The Times of India) was therefore taking steps to defend its rights and protect its property against such misuse, the complaint said.
Leading senior counsel Shirish Gupte told TOI, “ A recording of the conversations received or acquired by the journalist while in employment with the Times Group will be the property of the channel and those tapes cannot be taken away . If received during course of employment for the benefit of the channel, the journalist cannot take it for use elsewhere.” Gupte, a respected criminal law counsel, said. “It would attract an offence of section 66B of the Information Technology Act.” Section 66B of IT Act stipulates that anyone who “dishonestly receives or retains any stolen computer resource or communication device knowing or having reason to believe the same to be stolen computer resource or communication device“, shall be punished with up to three years’ imprisonment or fined up to Rs 1lakh, or both.Cops ought to inquire into the BCCL complaint, Gupte said.Another highly regarded lawyer, who did not wish to be named, said, “If the tapes were given to a Times Now employee, it would mean that they were entrusted for use by the channel and hence if they have taken them away and converted them to their own use, it would amount to a case of theft and criminal breach of trust under the Indian Penal Code.”