New Delhi: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has pulled up the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for not taking action on audit findings about an "erroneous" agreement between Prasar Bharati and the Indian Cricket Board which caused a loss of Rs 3.39 crore.

The report of the PAC headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi presented in the Parliament on Monday sought action against officials responsible for the faulty agreement and asked the I&B Ministry to recover the money "overpaid" to BCCI.

The Prasar Bharati had in November 2005 entered into an agreement for telecast of 12 One Day Internationals (ODIs) matches with BCCI. As per the agreement, the Prasar Nharati would pay Rs 7.50 crore for each match which as per one of the clauses would last seven hours, the report said.

"Prasar Bharati did not reduce the payment of five matches which were held for less than the full duration of seven hours except for one cancelled match and one match played at Mohali," the PAC report observed.

The report observed that an Audit in 2008 had pointed to the contradictions in the agreement.

"In the event of a match being cancelled altogether, no consideration shall be payable," said one of the clauses in the agreement. Another conflicting clause provided that "a ball being bowled in a match shall be deemed to be a match being played," the PAC report noted.

The PAC in the report demanded explanation for the erroneous drafting but also recommended penal action against officials who had finalised the draft.

"The committee also recommend that the process should be commenced for the recovery of monies overpaid to BCCI for the matches which were played for less than seven hours duration as similar deduction was made for the Mohali match," the report said.

"The Committee note with serious concern that although Prasar Bharati made a net gain of Rs 26,81,47,402 for the said matches, yet the Ministry failed to explain to the Committee as to what was the basis of fixing the rate of Rs 7.5 crore paid to BCCI for each ODI match," the report said.

The PAC said the Ministry had stated that "no records are traceable in Prasar Bharati which could give details of the fixation of this rate".

"The issue of untraceable records of or of missing files is a matter of far graver concern and evidently there is something rotten in the Ministry of I&B," the report stated.

The PAC in its report said the agreement was not vetted by legal authorities and was "in fact a mindless cut and paste reproduction of an earlier agreement signed in 2004 for a five day match series".

"The Committee are perturbed to note that such a patently erroneous agreement was described by the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting simply as an unhappily drafted agreement," the report said and commented, "There is more than that meets the eye."

Titled 'Negligent scrutiny of claims leading to excess payment', the report slammed the ministry for responding after a delay of months to the audit observations on which it was
supposed to act.

The report claimed that as against the stipulated time of four months after the audit, the Ministry took more than 10 months to furnish the first Action Taken Note (ATN). The report claims that the submission of subsequent notes was further delayed.

"The Ministry owes explanation for such inordinate and unconscionable delay. The committee also recommend that responsibility be fixed for the delay," the PAC report said
and asked the Ministry to inform it of the action taken within three months.

Meanwhile, PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi stressed on the need to eliminate pendency of audit observations.

"Deploring the delay of more than two years in furnishing the final action taken notes, the Committee has recommended that responsibility be fixed for such inordinate and unconscionable delay," he said in a press release.

Joshi said the committee had deplored the fact that the Ministry was unable to explain the basis of fixing the rate of Rs 7.5 crore for each match to BCCI as the relevant records were not traceable in Prasar Bharati.

"The Committee has recommended that state of the art filing and retrieval system be out in place within the Ministry as well as Prasar Bharati within three months so that instances of this nature do not recur and transparency is brought in their functioning," Joshi said in the release.

(Agencies)