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CBI may file FIR against Lalli on Friday

March 03, 2011 21:05 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation is likely to lodge an FIR against suspended Prasar Bharti CEO B S Lalli on Friday, in connection with alleged irregularities in the award of broadcasting rights of Commonwealth Games reportedly resulting in a loss of Rs 135 crore to the exchequer.

The case is likely to be filed under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code, official sources said.

The move comes after Information and Broadcasting Ministry cleared the deck for prosecution of Lalli facing allegations of corruption relating to broadcast rights given to SIS Live.

However, sanction for the prosecution of former Doordarshan Director General Aruna Sharma's role in the matter is yet to be given by the Ministry which said it is examining the reply given by Sharma, a Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer. Soon after getting clearance from the Prime Minister's Office to initiate action against both the officials on the basis of the recommendations of the V K Shunglu committee, the CBI had written to the Ministry seeking its nod to go ahead with criminal proceedings against them.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after receiving the report, had directed that explanations be sought from Lalli and Sharma. Both Lalli and Sharma denied allegations of any wrongdoing. Sharma was ordered to be reverted back to the state cadre while Lalli was suspended. The PM decided to refer the matter to CBI after considering the Shunglu committee report and the report given by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar.

Based on documents made available, the committee has concluded that the actual cost of the contract awarded to SIS Live was at best about Rs.111 crore, thus resulting in a gain of at least Rs.135 crore to to the company. In its report, the committee had fixed the responsibility for providing "undue benefit" to SIS Live and Zoom Communications primarily on Lalli and Sharma and said they cannot be recused from the acts of omission and commission.

The committee had also said certain actions seem to attract penal provisions under IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act which need to be separately investigated. The PM had also directed the ministry to review the claims made by SIS LIVE, jointly with Prasar Bharati and in consultation with their financial advisers, to ensure that there is no over-payment.