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Prasar Bharati CEO's suspension likely tonight

The suspension of Prasar Bharati CEO, B S Lalli appears imminent with President Pratibha Patil expected to sign the file late tonight. Nandini R Iyer reports.

delhi Updated: Dec 21, 2010 22:11 IST
Nandini R Iyer
Nandini R Iyer
Hindustan Times

The suspension of Prasar Bharati CEO, B S Lalli appears imminent with President Pratibha Patil expected to sign the file late on Tuesday night.

"Since she (the President) is leaving for her annual vacation on Wednesday, we are expecting that the file will be signed tonight," admitted a senior Prasar Bharati official.

Last week, Union minister for information and broadcasting Ambika Soni said it was the President, when assenting to a Supreme Court inquiry against Lalli, suo motu asked the ministry of information and broadcasting to see if Lalli could be suspended pending inquiry.

This came after the Prime Minister's Office sent the President a copy of a report by the Central Vigilance Commission, which alleged corruption, financial and administrative mismanagement in the public broadcaster.

The primary allegations as indicated in the CVC report suggest that Lalli overlooked All India Radio's paying "higher" rates to get commentary rights in various cricket series.

He is alleged to have failed to convene meeting of a committee with regard to handling of these matches b AIR and Doordarshan and failed to ensure proper marketing of some of the cricket series between 2007 and 2008.

A key charge against Lalli was that he did not ensure telecast of the T-20 World Cup in 2007 on Doordarshan.

The allegation was that by not forcing the rights holder to share its feed with DD, Lalli allowed the rights holder to gain financially. There was also a charge of breach of Parliamentary Privilege in this.

In keeping with the provisions of the Prasar Bharati Act, the President's assent is required to inquire against, prosecute, suspend, or dismiss Lalli. When the file was forwarded by the PMO, President Patil had assented to the SC inquiry on December 7.

Following her query on Lalli's suspension, the I & B ministry sent a letter recommending suspension through the PMO on Friday.

HT had reported on December 10 that the ministry is likely to ask an official of the rank of additional secretary to the Government of India, or higher, to assume temporary charge immediately after Lalli's suspension is announced.

Lalli, however, has been defending himself as a victim of "intrigue and mischief".

"A lot of intrigue and mischief has been going on within the organisation which has unfortunately been abetted and encouraged by powerful elements from outside aimed at not only the demonising of an individual…," he said.

First Published: Dec 21, 2010 21:52 IST