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Police to grill Prasar officials

New Delhi, April 12: Delhi police are preparing a questionnaire to grill some Prasar Bharati Corporation officials in a criminal case registered for non-recovery of Rs 13.79 crore from three private firms, including one run by former Union minister Pramod Mahajan’s son.

Though the names of the officials to be quizzed from the management and accounts sections are not known, the focus of the questionnaire would be on why the Doordarshan officers looking after these files had accepted bank guarantees of Western Co-operative Bank, a Mumbai-based bank which went into liquidation after the Ketan Parekh scam broke out.

What is baffling the sleuths is that though the bank’s credit limit was just Rs 60 lakh, it gave bank security to the tune of Rs 14 crore.

Whether the Corporation officials verified the crucial facts of guarantee limits and other posers would be put before the officials to probe the possibility of a nexus between the bank, Doordarshan and private companies, police sources said.

Deputy commissioner (Economic Offences Wing) Dinesh Bhatt confirmed to The Telegraph that they would question the Corporation officials to unravel the truth.

He added that some Prasar Bharati officers have already been questioned a couple of months back on procedures and guidelines laid down for commissioning programmes.

The economic wing had registered an FIR in December 2001, against Western Co-operative Bank officials for giving bank guarantees beyond its credit limit. The companies involved were Integral Productions (run by Mahajan’s son Rahul), Maya Productions and Madhav Poly Producer Trading Private Ltd.

Integral Productions, which had bagged the Doordarshan-sponsored programme Truck Dhina Dhin, owes Prasar Bharati Corporation Rs 91 lakh.

R.R. Shah, who is presently the information and technology secretary, was the Prasar Bharati chief when the contract was signed with these companies. However, Anil Baijal, who took over from Shah, asked Delhi police to initiate an investigation.

Sources said police would decide whether they need to examine Shah or not after questioning the officials. Shah was not available for comment.

A petition was also filed in Delhi High Court, questioning the Prasar Bharati’s contracts with private firms, as they had resulted in huge losses to the government exchequer. “We, too, had questioned the deals with these three companies in our petitions, which ultimately was dismissed by the court after some hearings,” lawyer Ashok Singh said.

Police also arrested the bank’s managing director, but the prime accused in the case are absconding, including its director Sudha Tracy, and an adviser, Shenoy. Interestingly, though Shenoy introduced himself as an adviser to Western Co-operative Bank while cracking the deals with the Corporation, his name does not figure on its list of employees, police said.

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