Vinay Kumar

Court directs CBI for further investigation

Special Court feels CBI has not done enough investigation Very bases on which telecast rights were awarded were later changedFacts revealed nexus between the DD officials and the telecast companyCBI likely to recommend major penalty against the accused

NEW DELHI: Allegations of bungling in granting telecast rights for cricket and tennis matches have dogged Doordarshan and Prasar Bharti, the public service broadcastor of the country, surfaced at regular intervals.

At the centre of the controversy are three cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation five years ago against former Doordarshan officials, who were allegedly involved in selling TV rights one way or the other, and some private television companies.

After investigation for two years, the CBI filed closure reports in the three cases before the Designated Special Judge, Delhi. A.K. Aggarwal, calling himself as an "honest citizen," challenged the closure reports. CBI challenged the locus standi of Mr. Aggarwal, but the court granted him a hearing.

The closure reports in all the three cases were rejected and the CBI asked to conduct further investigation. The court felt the CBI had not conducted any investigations into the allegations that the very bases on which the rights were awarded to a private company were later changed.

Documents show that court ordered further investigation on the ground that the facts revealed a nexus between Doordarshan officials and the telecast company. The court also questioned the manner in which the rebate was given to the telecast company and how it was calculated. Rejecting the closure report, the court said that there appeared to be no probe into the deliberate delay in submitting the bids to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which organised the 1999 World Cup.

After the First Information Report was registered on November 8, 2000, CBI officials conducted raids on the former DD officials and private TV companies such as Stracon India Private Limited simultaneously in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. CBI levelled allegations of criminal conspiracy and invoked the Prevention of Corruption Act for showing undue favour to a private company in awarding contracts for the marketing rights to telecast French Open 1997 without any competitive bidding and thereby cheating the Government. Similar allegations were levelled for awarding the marketing rights of Wimbledon 1997 and telecast rights of the World Cup Cricket in 1999.

In all the three cases the CBI probe till 2002 could not establish its allegations levelled in the FIRs. Hence the agency filed closure reports, which were subsequently rejected by the court.