CBI to close graft case on ex-Prasar Bharti chief

The CBI has decided to close the case of alleged fraud and criminal conspiracy against the then Prasar Bharti CEO B S Lalli in awarding broadcasting rights contract of Commonwealth Games.

Last Updated: Jun 29, 2012, 15:53 PM IST

New Delhi: The CBI has decided to close the case of alleged fraud and criminal conspiracy against the then Prasar Bharti CEO B S Lalli in awarding broadcasting rights contract of Commonwealth Games which is claimed to have caused a loss of Rs 100 crore to exchequer.

CBI sources said the allegations in the case could not be substantiated during its investigation and the agency may file a closure report before the competent court soon.

Last year, the agency had filed a case against Lalli and Managing Director of Delhi-based Zoom Communications Wasim Dehlvi, who is also the resident director of UK-based SIS Live, under section 120-B and 420 of Indian Penal Code related to criminal conspiracy and fraud respectively.

The allegations were refuted by Lalli and Dehlvi.

The CBI had alleged that a major portion of Rs 246 crore contract given to UK-based SIS Live by Prasar Bharti for "production and coverage" of Commonwealth Games was sub-contracted to Zoom Communications for only Rs 176 crore resulting in loss of nearly Rs 100 crore to the exchequer.=

After a year-long investigation in the alleged scam, the CBI has come to conclusion that there were no major shortcomings in these issues.

The sources said that investigations revealed that schedule of payments was never changed in favour of SIS Live by the Prasar Bharti.

The CBI has alleged in its FIR that a number of conditions were relaxed in favour of the UK-based company SIS Live, including a provision pertaining to sub-contracting to Zoom Communications.

On allegations that the draft contract was altered to favour SIS Live which allowed assignment of contract to Zoom Communication, the CBI has concluded that final contract was settled by Solicitor General and approved by oversight committee headed by Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

CBI sources said even if it is assumed that the contract was in favour of SIS Live, it was a "collective administrative decision" that was taken after due diligence.

During its investigation CBI probed whether the decision of Doordarshan not to cover 10 of the 17 Commonwealth Games events through in house production was malafide.

The agency had said Doordarshan initially decided to cover the 10 events but later cut them down to three which was allegedly done to favour the private contractor.

The CBI sources said this allegation could also not be substantiated as the probe has revealed that in-house production of 10 events by public broadcaster Doordarshan was "only a wish" and not a firm decision.

The case was referred to CBI by the Prime Minister`s Office after considering the Shunglu committee report and the one given by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar.

In its report, the Shunglu 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.

PTI