Former Doordarshan Director General Aruna Sharma, facing CBI probe in controversial SIS-Live Commonwealth Games broadcast deal, had allegedly blocked the information to the contract even though the concerned official allowed it to be made public.
The then DG of Doordarshan had refused to give permission for making public 274 documents related to the deal, being probed by the agency, after an RTI applicant had deposited the necessary fee as directed, the public information officer of the broadcaster has accepted before the Central Information Commission.
Dehradun-based Mohit Kumar had sought to know from the Doordarshan the details of contract given to SIS Live for the broadcast of Commonwealth Games. Director (Engineering) A.K. Jha told him that the information contained in 274 pages could be provided after fee of Rs 548 was deposited.
Mr. Kumar deposited the fee as instructed by the official but instead of documents, he received a letter stating that information cannot be shared as it comes under section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act which prohibits disclosure of records related to commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property.
During the hearing before the transparency panel, Mr. Jha told the Commission that information pertained to CWG cell of Doordarhan, which did not have any Public Information Officer (designated officer for replying to RTI queries).
Mr. Jha said in the absence of any PIO he was entrusted to reply to RTI queries.
He said since he was not the PIO, he had to get permission from DG Doordarshan before sending the information who at that stage (after he promised the information to Kumar) “ordered” him not to furnish the information.
“It may be noted that DG, Doordarshan is already facing an investigation for her alleged role in the CWG scam,” Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit pointed out in her order directing the Doordarshan to disclose the information.
After hearing the arguments by Mr. Jha, Mr. Dixit ordered disclosure of all the information related to deal between SIS Live and Doordarshan as sought by Kumar free of cost and directed the public broadcaster to return the fee deposited by Mr. Kumar.