New Delhi : Rejecting allegations of corruption, public broadcaster Doordarshan on Saturday claimed that the Rs 246 crore contract with a British firm to telecast Commonwealth Games was "transparent" and as per government rules.
"The whole contract is very transparent. There is nothing wrong in it. The deal has been done following all the process of government and General Finance Rules (GFR) and with proper approval by the competent authority, which is the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting," Director General of Doordarshan Aruna Sharma told to reporters.
She said "the allegations of corruption are baseless. The firm was selected after a thorough and unbiased procedure based on government rules."
Asked about the charge that SIS Live had floated an entity in India solely for the purpose of executing the contract, she said "The company needs godowns and other infrastructure support to implement the work. We gave the contract to them and it is upto them how they complete the task. There was nothing wrong in it."
Questions were raised over the deal after the Income Tax department had in its survey operations of SIS Live found alleged discrepancies in its financial documents.
Sources said the company was allegedly trying to evade taxes to the tune of Rs 29 crore.
The IT department subsequently asked Prasar Bharti, which had made Doordarshan enter into a contract with the company for broadcast rights of the Games, to cut taxes from the
company`s receipts under the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) category.
The DG said, "Income tax deduction is to be done by the Pay and Accounts department of Prasar Bharti. They had deducted the income tax as per the direction of the IT
department. Any change in the same would be equally abided by the concerned section....
"The firm is still to be paid 40 per cent of money by us. In addition there is 10 per cent of bank guarantee also with the government. There is no question of bungling by Doordarshan. The deal is done in a proper way," she said.Explaining the overall process of selection, Sharma said,
"The Expression of Interest (EoI) was called by Doordarshan for the contract. About six entities had come forward for it. Out of which two (Nimbus and SIS Live) had participated in the technical and financial bids.
"The contract was ultimately given to SIS Live as one of the lead partners of Nimbus had left during the bidding process. We have taken necessary approval from the government
before finalising things. How can that be wrong ?," the DG asked.
The I-T department had asked Prasar Bharti to freeze the unreleased amount of the contract on October six, but a day later, it issued orders to cut taxes under TDS by invoking provisions of section 197 (certificate for deduction at lower rate) and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).
"It is incumbent on the contracting entity, namely, SIS Live to pay the service tax to the service tax authorities. Once this tax is paid only then Doordarshan makes the final
payment. This is the procedure followed for all contractual formalities," Sharma said.
Investigating agencies probing the alleged Commonwealth Games scam have also raised questions over award of contracts by its Organising Committee to firms sidestepping a nodal government department --Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal-- under the Ministry of Commerce designated to procure and standardise material.
On another front in the Games scam, the CVC has asked CBI to probe any criminal conspiracy angle in the award of certain Games-related projects.
In reply to an RTI query filed by PTI, the CVC said a total of 22 projects are being probed by CVC, which include a highest of six carried out by the Sports ministry, four by
Delhi Development Authority, three by Organising Committee and two each by Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Central Public Works Department.
One work each relating to Department of Commerce, Indian Meteorological Department and New Delhi Municipal Council is also being probed, it said.
The matter regarding alleged manipulation of tenders by Indian Meteorological Department and its senior officers is under investigation by the Commission, the RTI reply said.
Official sources said the CVC detected discrepancies like payment to non-existent parties, wilful delay in execution of contracts, inflated prices and bungling in the purchase and renting of overlays.
These included equipment worth several crores through tendering by Organising Committee and other government departments have also been noticed.