Prasar Bharati writes to CBI, lists charges against Lalli
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In a clear attempt to preempt the reported move to close corruption cases against its former CEO B S Lalli and some others, the Prasar Bharati has written to the CBI listing all the charges against them so that the agency could carry out its probe on the basis of "material on record".
Although it has not said so explicitly, the purpose behind Prasar Bharati's communication to the CBI is to discourage any attempt to close the cases which relate to alleged irregularities in the awarding of broadcast rights for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to a private entity called SIS Live. The closure of cases would weaken Prasar Bharati's stand in an arbitration proceeding with SIS Live, which is seeking to withhold payments and damages worth more than Rs 230 crore.
As its defence at the arbitration proceedings, the Prasar Bharati — that is now run by an entirely new administration — has argued that the decisions related to the contract with SIS Live, and changes made therein, were taken by the then DG of Doordarshan Aruna Sharma under the supervision of Lalli in an "unauthorised" manner, which is the subject matter of investigation by the CBI. If the CBI closes the cases against Lalli and others, and gives them a clean chit, Prasar Bharati's defence at the arbitration panel is likely to collapse.
Lalli, who had a highly controversial tenure as CEO of Prasar Bharati and was indicted by the CVC in some other cases, is accused of committing fraud and criminal conspiracy in the award of these rights. This particular case was referred to the CBI by the Prime Minister's Office on the basis of the findings of the Shunglu Committee report on the expenditure incurred on the Commonwealth Games.
The CBI had, last month, indicated that it was about to file closure reports in the cases, apparently after coming to the conclusion that the allegations against Lalli could not be substantiated and that its probe had not revealed any shortcomings in the award of the contract.
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