Apex court refuses to halt probe into Prasar Bharati ‘irregularities’

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to suspend a Delhi High Court order for a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) probe into alleged financial and administrative irregularities in the functioning of the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi refused to suspend the high court’s July 27 order against Prasar Bharati and its CEO B.S. Lalli, and said it would hear the latter’s apeal against the high court order Monday.

Former attorney general Soli J Sorabjee, appearing for Lalli, apprised the court of his lawsuit, pending with the court’s registry and sought hearing of the matter.

He also sought suspension of the high court’s order, but the bench refused to oblige him.

On a public interest lawsuit by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), the high court had ordered a CVC probe into alleged financial irregularities committed by the public broadcaster.

The CPIL alleged the Prasar Bharati CEO had been refusing internal audit of the corporation’s finances though the public broadcasters had awarded several bids worth billions of rupees in the runup to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Lalli had also been allegedly refusing to implement even the decisions of the Prasar Bharati board, contending that those decisions were not taken at all.

In fact, he would contend that no meeting was held at all to take these decisions.

On this allegation, the high court had ordered video recording of all the board meetings and had even appointed a retired high court judge, Justice J.P. Singh, to supervise the board meetings.

As Lalli allegedly did not convene the regular board meetings, the high court ordered for these within 15 days and directed that the day-to-day work of the public broadcaster would be handled jointly by the CEO, board member (finance) and board member (personnel).

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