The CBI today searched the residence of suspended Prasar Bharti CEO Mr BS Lalli after registering a case against him and others for alleged irregularities in the award of broadcasting rights of Commonwealth Games that reportedly resulted in a loss of Rs 135 crore to the exchequer. The case was filed against Mr Lalli, director of Zoom Communications Mr Wasim Dehlvi and others under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code late last night, official sources said.
Besides Mr Lalli’s residence, the searches were being carried at the residence of Dehlvi and two more places, the sources said. The CBI moves comes after Information and Broadcasting Ministry cleared the deck for prosecution of Lalli facing allegations of corruption relating to broadcast rights given to SIS Live.
However, sanction for the prosecution of former Doordarshan director-general Mrs Aruna Sharma for her role in the matter is yet to be given by the ministry which said it was examining the reply given by the Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer. Soon after getting clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office to initiate action against both the officials on the basis of the recommendations of the VK Shunglu committee, the CBI had written to the ministry seeking its nod to go ahead with criminal proceedings against them.
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, after receiving the report, had directed that explanations be sought from Mr Lalli and Mr Sharma. Both denied allegations of any wrongdoing. Mr Sharma was ordered back to state cadre while Mr Lalli was suspended.
In a statement issues earlier, Zoom Communication denied all allegations levelled against the company by the Shunglu Committee. The Prime Minister decided to refer the matter to the CBI after considering the Shunglu committee report and the one given by Cabinet secretary Mr KM Chandrasekhar. “Based on documents made available, the committee has concluded that the actual cost of the contract awarded to SIS Live was at best about Rs 111 crore, thus resulting in a gain of at least Rs 135 crore to to the company,” the Shunglu report had alleged.
In its report, the committee had fixed the responsibility for providing “undue benefit” to SIS Live and Zoom Communications primarily on Lalli and Sharma and said they cannot be recused from the acts of omission and commission. The committee had also said that certain actions seem to attract penal provisions under IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act which needed to be investigated separately.
The Prime Minister had also directed the ministry to review the claims made by SIS LIVE, jointly with Prasar Bharati and in consultation with their financial advisers, to ensure that there is no over-payment.