The Prasar Bharati Board on Thursday will deliberate on a proposal moved by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to appoint a serving IAS officer as member to the board giving it a larger say in the working of the autonomous public service broadcaster.
It is learnt that Chairperson of the Board Surya Prakash, who was recently re-appointed, is likely to red flag the appointment as it is in contravention of two clauses of the Prasar Bharati Act.
The agenda of Thursday’s meeting proposes that a member [personnel] post that has been vacant for more than a year now should be filled by a serving IAS officer. It does not mention any specific name. The member is responsible for all the personnel and administrative matters concerning the public service broadcaster.
Against the Act
Clause 4 (1) of the Act says that the Chairman and all the members of the board are to be appointed by the President of India on recommendation of a committee consisting of the Vice-President, Chairman Press Council of India and a nominee of the President of India.
And clause 6 (2) says the Member (Personnel) “shall be whole-time member” and clause 6 (7) says that the whole time members shall be the employees of the Corporation.
“It is not under the board’s jurisdiction to make such a suggestion to the government when there is an Act that clearly lays down the method to make such an appointment. The proposal seeks to bypass the office of Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and if such a resolution is cleared, it will denigrate his position,” one of the board members told The Hindu .
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had advertised the post twice last year. First advertisements were issued in June and the second in August.
As per senior officials in Prasar Bharati, over fifty applications came in response to the first advertisement and nearly forty applications for the second . The Prasar Bharati officials complain that the Ministry did not set the wheels running and the applications were junked.
“The Ministry’s proposal is clearly to have better control over an autonomous body, which completely defeats the purpose of having an independent organisation,” another member added.
The Board will also deliberate on a proposal to appoint two journalists Siddharth Zarabi and Abhijeet Majumder in editorial position. Mr. Zarabi is executive editor of Business TV India and Mr. Majumder is Managing Editor of Mail Today. The Board has to vet both the appointments of Mr. Majumder as Chief Editor, Prasar Bharati News Service and Mr. Zarabi as head of TV News in Doordarshan News.