New Delhi: Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill to amend law governing Prasar Bharati, ensuring that recruitments done between November 1997 and October 2007 will be considered as "deemed deputation" till retirement.

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The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill, 2010, already passed by Rajya Sabha, was approved by the Lok Sabha by voice vote on Tuesday.

Intervening in the discussion on the bill, during which members raised concerns over performance of the body, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, "There is no magic wand to provide instant remedies for various problems. But the intention should be clear."

She said the bill would regularise a large number of employees. It will make the status of employees recruited between November 23, 1997 and October 5, 2007 – they are on deemed deputation to Prasar Bharati till their retirement - absolutely clear and unambiguous.

Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting C M Jatua said there had been ambiguity for long about the fate of the Prasar
Bharati employees and the new legislation was aimed at correcting it.

It is vital to ensure that Prasar Bharati employees work in a professional and tension-free atmosphere, he said.

Responding to concerns expressed by some members that the government did not fill the post of Prasar Bharti CEO after exit of the former head following allegations of corruption in Commonwealth Games, he said, "The ministry has nothing to do with the appointment of the CEO as it is done by a committee headed by the Vice-President with a representative of the President, and the Chairman of Press Council of India on its board."

Both Soni and Jatua assured the House that a more comprehensive amendment bill will be brought to strengthen Prasar Bharati and make it a more professional organisation.

The bill, which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August last year, was referred to the Standing Committee whose recommendations were incorporated in it before it was taken up
for consideration and passage.

The Committee had recommended that in the recruitment rules and service conditions of employees of Prasar Bharati, it should be made absolutely clear that the employees on
deemed deputation are senior to Prasar Bharati employees and it would not affect their promotional prospects.

The bill amends section 11(2) of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill by the addition of "and until their retirement" at the end of the section.

The specified posts pertain to officers and employees of the Indian Information Service, the Central Secretariat Service or any cadre outside Akashvani and Doordarshan but connected to Prasar Bharati.

The employees under this category were apprehensive about their promotional prospects, especially in relation to those who were directly recruited for Prasar Bharati.

Earlier, participating in the discussion members belonging to different parties demanded that Prasar Bharati should be wound up and pitched for making Doordarshan more effective and professional.

Initiating the debate on the Bill, Pralhad Joshi (BJP) said his party supported the legislation but wanted uncertainties regarding the employees to be addressed.

He suggested that Prasar Bharati be made like the Election Commission, with proper funding and "real autonomy".  Contending that Prasar Bharati, which was supposed to be
autonomous, was not treated well, Joshi criticised the government for not filling the post of CEO.

"You want to say you want to bring autonomy to Prasar Bharati. What is the problem in appointing a CEO? It (Prasar Bharati) should become the natural voice of the country," he
said.

He said while 48,000 posts were sanctioned in Prasar Bharati, 12,000 posts were lying vacant. Out of 1,200 stations, only 69 had Station Directors.

He also wanted to know why Prasar Bharati did not telecast Twenty20 cricket series despite getting the rights and who should be held responsible for causing loss to the tune of
crores of rupees after "you have sent the CEO home".

Those participated in the debate include Prabodh Panda (CPI), Sumitra Mahajan (BJP), Sanjay Nirupam (Cong), Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), Narhari Mahato (AIFB), Tarun
Mandal (Ind), Prasanta Kumar Majumdar (RSP) and E T Mohamed Basheer (MLKSC).

(Agencies)