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 Up loaded on Tuesday March 01, 2011

Ministry nod for CBI probe against Lalli

           NEW DELHI, 1 MAR: Information and broadcasting ministry has given the go ahead for a CBI probe against suspended Prasar Bharati CEO Mr BS Lalli in connection with allegations of corruption in awarding broadcasting rights of Commonwealth Games.

           Sources said the ministry has given the sanction to CBI to probe Mr Lalli's role in the award of broadcasting rights of Commonwealth Games causing Rs 135 crore loss to the exchequer. However, it is yet to give its nod for a CBI probe to investigate Doordarshan director-general Ms Aruna Sharma's role in the matter. Ministry sources said they were examining the reply given by Ms Sharma, a Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer.

        Soon after getting clearance from the Prime Minister's Office to initiate action against both the officials on the basis of the recommendations of the VK Shunglu committee, the CBI had written to the ministry seeking its nod to go ahead with criminal proceedings against them.

          Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, after receiving the report, had issued directions that explanations be sought from Mr Lalli and Ms Sharma in the award of broadcasting rights of Commonwealth Games causing Rs.135 crore loss to the exchequer. Both Mr Lalli and Ms Sharma had denied allegations of any wrongdoing. Mr Sharma was ordered to be reverted back to the state while Mr Lalli was suspended.

        The Prime Minister decided to refer the matter to CBI after considering the report on the Host Broadcasting Issues related to the Games and the report given by Cabinet secretary Mr KM Chandrasekhar. In its report, the committee had fixed the responsibility for providing “undue benefit” to SIS Live and Zoom Communications primarily on Mr Lalli and Ms Sharma and said they cannot be recused from the acts of omission and commission which facilitated this wrong doing. The committee had also said certain actions seem to attract penal provisions under IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act which need to be separately investigated.

        The Prime Minister had also directed the ministry to review the claims made by M/s SIS LIVE, jointly with Prasar Bharati and in consultation with their financial advisers to ensure that there is no over-payment.

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