Prez suspends Lalli as CEO of Prasar Bharti

President Pratibha Patil signed the order for suspension of Prasar Bharti CEO B S Lalli.

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2010, 23:45 PM IST

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil tonight
ordered the suspension of Prasar Bharti`s controversial CEO BS Lalli, who is in the eye of a storm facing allegations of
irregularities in the country`s largest public broadcaster.

The order for the suspension has been signed by Patil,
official sources said tonight. The order came on the eve of
the President`s deparature to Hyderabad for the annual winter
sojourn.

The Presidential action came after the Prime Minister`s
Office (PMO) forwarded to Patil the letter by the Information
and Broadcasting Ministry recommending the suspension of
63-year-old Lalli, a 1971-batch IAS officer of the Uttar
Pradesh cadre.

According to the Prasar Bharati Act, 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.

Prasar Bharati was formed in 1997 as a public service
broadcaster. This is the first time that its CEO faces the
prospect of being removed from the post and is a test case of
sorts.

The allegations against Lalli included the controversial
decision to give the contract for broadcast of recently
concluded Commonwealth Games to a UK-based firm SIS Live.

The Ministry`s move recommending his suspension came a
week after President Patil gave her assent to a Supreme Court
inquiry into the alleged irregularities in Prasar Bharati.

Lalli, who assumed the CEO`s post 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.

Reacting to the Presidential reference, Lalli had 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".

PTI