I&B sits on CVC order to probe graft charge

Gujarat MP Rathwa complained in Feb 2011: ‘Prasar Bharati undersold ad slots during cricket World Cup to favour private firm’

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Published: July 30, 2012 12:52:24 am

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had asked the I&B Ministry last year to inquire into a specific allegation of corruption and submit a report to it “immediately”. More than one-and-half years later,the ministry has neither conducted an inquiry nor submitted any report to the CVC.

The CVC order of February 28,2011 had come on a complaint from BJP MP from Gujarat Ramsinh Patalyabhai Rathwa who had alleged that the Prasar Bharati had undersold advertisement slots during last year’s cricket World Cup to benefit a private telecast company. Rathwa,in his complaint to the CVC on February 14 last year,had alleged that the tournament which could have easily brought in Rs 100 crore in advertisement revenue was deliberately sold for a mere Rs 30 crore,and blamed “Doordarshan officials” of defrauding public exchequer.

Rathwa specifically named Rajiv Takru,the then acting CEO of Prasar Bharati,and Aruna Sharma,the then Director General of Doordarshan,in his complaint and alleged that they had refused to follow earlier directions of CVC on how to allocate advertisement slots. Takru,who is the government’s nominee on the board of Prasar Bharati which is an autonomous body,is an Additional Secretary in the I&B Ministry,while Aruna Sharma has since gone back to Madhya Pradesh,her parent cadre. Rathwa had drew a parallel to the CVC indictment of former Prasar Bharati CEO B S Lalli for similar “offences”.

The CVC had found the complaint worthy of an investigation and asked the I&B Ministry to carry out an inquiry. “The allegations mentioned in the complaint are specific and verifiable and may have a vigilance angle,” the CVC letter to the ministry said.

“…the Commission hereby directs that an investigation be conducted on the charges of corruption/irregularities pointed out in the enclosed complaint. The report of this inquiry should be submitted to the Commission immediately,” it said.

At least three officers of the ministry saw the letter on March 1,the day after it was sent,and wrote that it must be put up to the CVO of the ministry immediately. Thereafter,the letter seemed to have hit a roadblock.

CVO of the ministry D P Reddy is a joint secretary level officer and junior to Takru,whose role was being asked to investigate.

Reddy admitted that an inquiry had been “unduly delayed” in this matter,and thanked The Indian Express for bringing the issue to light. He claimed that the file had been forwarded to Prasar Bharati last year for information. The Prasar Bharati had sent the information in July last year. “There was a mention of an internal inquiry conducted by them (Prasar Bharati) but the report of that inquiry was not enclosed. The ministry therefore sought the inquiry report as well. There has been no movement in this file after that,” he said.

Reddy also promised that the inquiry sought by the CVC will be completed within the next couple of weeks.

Surprisingly,there has been no follow-up from the CVC on its own order asking for an inquiry. Attempts to get information on this case from the CVC were unsuccessful. But sources in the I&B Ministry claimed there had been no further communication from the CVC.

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