SC restores powers to Prasar Bharati CEO

Last Updated: Monday, August 24, 2009 - 19:17

New Delhi: In a relief to Prasar Bharati
CEO B S Lalli, the Supreme Court on Monday restored to him the
executive powers taken away by a recent order of the Delhi
High Court.

The apex court stayed the July 27 order of the High
Court that directed that the day-to-day work of the public
broadcaster would be handled by a three-man team consisting
the CEO, Member (Finance) and Member (Personnel) of the Board
jointly.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan
partially allowed Lalli`s challenge to the High Court order
with regard to his powers and said that he would function as
per the Prasar Bharati Act which states that the CEO shall
exercise powers delegated by the Board.

At the same time, the apex court did not interfere with
another part of the High Court order directing an enquiry by
the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) into alleged financial
irregularities in the Prasar Bharati Corporation. Infact,
Lalli also sought such a probe before the Supreme Court.

The court then directed that the CVC probe as well as a
special audit of Prasar Bharati be completed within six
weeks.

The Court also stayed the High Court direction that the
Board meetings should be videographed in the presence of
retired Delhi High Court judge J P Singh who was appointed as
an independent observer.

Justice Singh was also asked to submit a report if any
differences cropped up between Board chairman Arun Bhatnagar
and Lalli.

Lalli`s senior counsel K K Venugopal contended that the
public interest litigation filed before the High Court was
"motivated" and was at the behest of individuals with "vested
interests".

This was reflected in the petition which stated that the
powers of the CEO should be shared with two other members of
the Board, he said.

The Center for Public Interest Litigation, the
petitioner before the High Court, has no locus standi as it
was not on the Board, Venugopal said.

The High Court order was contrary to the provisions of
the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990 and virtually amounted to giving
final relief to the petitioner, he said.

CPIL counsel Prashant Bhushan opposed Venugopal`s
argument saying that the CEO`s powers were clipped after the
Board passed a resolution signed by majority members.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, August 24, 2009 - 19:17

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