Bharati CEO Lalli suspended
President Pratibha Patil has cleared the suspension of Prasar
Bharati chief executive officer (CEO) B.S. Lalli, official sources
said here Tuesday.
Lalli's suspension clears the way for an inquiry against him on
charges of financial mismanagement.
A day after the suspension of Prasar Bharati CEO B.S. Lalli, the
information and broadcasting ministry Wednesday was mulling
amendments to the Prasar Bharati Act even as it started looking
for a senior bureaucrat to manage the day-to-day affairs of the
"We do not want to tamper with the Act," Information and
Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here, but added
that the amendments were being suggested for the better
functioning of the public broadcaster.
She, however, said that through amendments, "we would like to make
the act as healthy and as conducive to a public broadcaster as
possible." Soni was responding to a question on whether the
government is thinking of amending the Prasar Bharati law in the
aftermath of an elaborate process involved in taking action
against the CEO.
The ministry Wednesday sent Lalli the suspension letter after it
received the presidential communique approving the action. Soni
added that the Group of Ministers on Prasar Bharati, headed by
Home Minister P. Chidambaram, would be presented with the proposed
amendments. The secretary in the information and broadcasting
ministry will be given three to four months to look at some
amendments and he would be formulating his report shortly, she
Official sources said that nobody has been appointed to replace
Lalli as he has not been removed but only suspended pending
The ministry is, however, exploring the possibility of entrusting
a senior bureaucrat at the level of additional secretary for
managing the Prasar Bharati after Lalli's suspension over
allegations of financial mismanagement, the sources added.
It will be a stop-gap arrangement till a new CEO is appointed
after the completion of inquiry against Lalli. The other option is
to let members of the Prasar Bharati Board run the day-to-day
affairs of the broadcaster, sources said.
Ending two weeks of suspense, President Pratibha Patil Tuesday
cleared the suspension of Lalli, pending completion of an inquiry
into the allegations of financial irregularity against him.
Earlier, Patil had given her assent to a Supreme Court-led
inquiry, the first step in the process of removal of a Prasar
Lalli, a 1971 batch Indian Administrative Service officer, was
appointed CEO in December 2006. Subsequently, he was at the
receiving end of some of his colleagues on the board, who accused
him of financial impropriety.
Lalli was accused of favouring specific private companies in
bidding processes, and of manipulating a decision that led to the
inaugural Twenty20 Cricket World Cup not being shown on
Doordarshan. The decision was a flagrant violation of laws that
make it mandatory for private broadcasters to share with Prasar
Bharati the feed of all sporting events of national importance.
Earlier, Lalli was indicted by the Central Vigilance Commission
for breach of parliamentary privilege, showing favours to some
broadcast companies, and committing financial mismanagement. Lalli
has rejected charges of financial irregularity, saying "a lot of
intrigue and mischief" has been going on against him and hoped
that the probe would present the "true picture".
A Prasar Bharati CEO is appointed by a panel which includes the
prime minister, the Rajya Sabha chairman and the leader of
opposition in the Lok Sabha.
Prasar Bharati is the public broadcaster of the country and has
All India Radio and Doordarshan as its components.
Under the Prasar Bharati Act, the CEO can be removed only after
charges have been established by the Supreme Court through a
probe, which has to be referred to the Supreme Court by the
president of India.