Case registered for alleged irregularities in award of broadcasting rights

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday carried out searches at the residence of suspended Prasar Bharati CEO B.S. Lalli after registering a case against him and others for alleged irregularities in the award of broadcasting rights of the Commonwealth Games, which led to a loss of Rs.135 crore to the exchequer.

The CBI registered the First Information Report against Mr. Lalli, Wasim Ahmed Dehlvi, Director of Zoom Communications, and others under Sections 13 (1)(d) and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and Sections 120 (b) and 420 of the IPC late on Thursday night, official sources said.

Apart from Mr. Lalli's residence and the Prasar Bharati office, the searches were also carried out at the residential premises of Mr. Dehlvi and at two more places, the sources said.

Mr. Lalli, a 1971-batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, earlier served in the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The CBI move came after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry granted sanction to the agency for going ahead with the prosecution of Mr. Lalli facing allegations of corruption relating to broadcast rights awarded to SIS LIVE for coverage of the Games.

According to the FIR, broadcast rights were given to SIS LIVE for Rs. 246 crore, while the actual cost of coverage was Rs. 111 crore. SIS LIVE outsourced the rights to Zoom Communications for Rs.176 crore. It caused a wrongful loss of about Rs.100 crore to the exchequer, the CBI said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had referred the matter to the CBI after receiving the V.K. Shunglu Committee's report. The committee had called for action against Mr. Lalli and Aruna Sharma, former Doordarshan Director-General and IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre. She was ordered reverted to her parent cadre by the Prime Minister's Office.

Last month, the Supreme Court had initiated the inquiry into charges of financial and administrative irregularities against Mr. Lalli on a reference from President Pratibha Patil.

A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, S.H. Kapadia, and Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar had asked the Union government to provide a statement of facts and list of charges against Mr. Lalli, who headed Prasar Bharati, which controls the national television network.

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