Three-member team to oversee Prasar Bharti functioning: Apex court

New Delhi : The day-to-day functioning of public broadcaster Prasar Bharti would be carried out by a three-member committee comprising its chief executive officer and two other officers, in accordance with a Delhi High Court order, the Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The directive of the apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik restored the office order that the day-to-day functioning of the Prasar Bharti was to be carried out by the three-member committee, which also included its Member (finance) and Member (Personnel).

The office order was issued by Prasar Bharti CEO Baljit Singh Lalli on Aug 20, 2009, on the direction of the Delhi High Court. The apex court Friday upheld the high court directive.

Lalli had challenged the Delhi High Court’s directive, by which the court not only set up the three-member committee of the permanent members of the Prasar Bhasrti Board to run its day-to-day affairs but also referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) allegations that Lalli committed financial irregularities.

Appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), senior counsel Prashant Bhushan said that soon after the court order of Aug 24, 2009, Lalli again made the three-member committee infructous and started with his old style of unilateral decision making.

The apex court was told that Lalli was taking “unilateral” decisions for the past two years without consulting the Prasar Bharti Board.

He dealt with several organisations involved in the telecasting rights of the just concluded 19th Commonwealth Games and all those dealings have invited indictment of the CVC.

Prashant Bhushan told the court that the CVC has already submitted its report on the financial irregularities as directed by the Delhi High Court. He told the apex court that he has annexed the CVC report to his counter-affidavit responding to the issues raised by Lalli in his petition.

The court was told that “the CVC had found Lalli guilty of financial irregularities in a large number of cases”.

Prashant Bhushan told the court that Lalli was defying the court’s orders with impunity. The court was told that the Prasar Bharti CEO was “abusing” the apex court order of Aug 28, 2009.

The court has asked Lalli to file his rejoinder to the CPIL counter-affidavit.

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