SC restores powers to Prasar Bharati CEO
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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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