Lalli faces SC inquiry, says truth will come out

SC will probe charges of financial mismanagement against Prasar Bharti CEO.

Last Updated: Dec 09, 2010, 20:58 PM IST

New Delhi: Prasar Bharati CEO B S Lalli
will face a Supreme Court inquiry into charges of
administrative and financial irregularities against him
following a Presidential reference.

The assent to the Presidential reference, sought by
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sets in process the process of
removal of the controversial 1971 IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh
cadre, who has had a running feud with the Prasar Bharati
Board.
This is the first time the CEO of Prasar Bharati is
being sought to be removed under the provisions of the law
that was made two decades ago.

Reacting to the Presidential reference, Lalli (63)
said "a lot of intrigue and mischief" was going on within the
organisation against him that was "abetted and encouraged" by
powerful elements from outside.

He, however, hoped that the inquiry by the Supreme
Court would get finalised quickly so that the "true picture is
known to the public at large".

According to the Prasar Bharati law, the Chairman or a
Member of PB can only be removed by an order of the president
on the ground of misbehaviour after the Supreme Court holds an
inquiry following a reference to it.

Member (Executive) is the Chief Executive of the
public broadcaster. Pending inquiry, the CEO can be placed
under suspension as per the provisions of the Act.

Lalli, who assumed the CEO`s office in December 2006,
was indicted by the Central Vigilance Commission which accused
him of breach of Parliamentary privilege, giving undue favours
to some broadcast companies and financial mismanagement.

The Presidential reference to the apex court for
instituting an inquiry into the charges against him sets in
motion his removal process.

Reacting to the presidential reference, BJP leader M
Venkaiah Naidu said the action is "too late".

"It is too late. It is also part of the loot. We are
saying it earlier also about CWG... one after another is
happening," he told reporters outside Parliament.

"It is all because of the pressure by the Opposition in
Parliament all these things are happening. Otherwise the
government was totally unmoved," Naidu said and added "he
(Lalli) should go if he has committed any mistake."

Welcoming the decision, SP leader Mohan Singh said
"This is a good decision taken by the President we welcome it.
We have raised it in the Rajya Sabha."

In a press release, Lalli said while on the one hand he
was sad that he has to face this situation after nearly 40
years of "unblemished" service in the IAS, on the other he
derived comfort from the fact that he would finally be heard.

"At long last, due focus would be given to facts rather
than conjectures, half-truths and plain lies," he said.

Maintaining that he would not like to go into details
of charges against him as the entire subject would be
scrutinised by the highest court of the land, he said it would
suffice to refer to the four allegations against him.

The allegations are: engagement by Prasar Bharati of
expensive, senior advocates in a few cases, payment of
`higher` rates by AIR to get commentary rights in some cricket
series and non-convening of meetings of a Committee in regard
to some cricket matches and `improper` settling of the
management of marketing of a few cricket series between the
rights holder and Doordarshan.

The fourth charge related to non-telecast of T-20
World Cup in 2007 on Doordarshan implying thereby that a
possible financial gain was permitted to be made by the rights
holder. A charge has been made that parliamentary privilege
was breached by this non-telecast.
Lalli said "I would only state that 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, but also the derailment of a premier democratic
institution.

"Available record clearly and unequivocally sheds light
on the transparency, good faith and sound commercial judgement
in respect of all these matters.

"Judicial scrutiny, I am sure, will also show that
fallacious interpretation of relevant provisions of law and
rules was made to arrive at certain `conclusions` and that
presumptions and prejudice held the field while the facts on
record were not not even acknowledged."

Lalli said he hoped the inquiry by the Supreme Court
gets finalised quickly so that "true picture" is known to the
public at large.

PTI