Rajya Sabha passes Bill to amend Prasar Bharati Act


5 Aug 2011
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The Rajya Sabha today passed the bill for amending the Prasar Bharati Act 1990 for treating all government officers and employees recruited by All India Radio or Doordarshan as on 5 October 2007 to be on 'deemed deputation' with effect from April 2000 till the time of their retirement.

The Bill for amending Section 11 and some other provisions of the Act was moved by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting CM Jatua and passed unanimously.

embers also passed three official amendments in the Bill following acceptance of the action taken on the recommendations made in the Eighteenth Report on "Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill, 2010" of the Standing Committee on Information Technology.
Subsequently, Rule 37A of the CCS Pension Rules will also be amended through gazette notification.

The Bill had been introduced in September, 20 months after the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Prasar Bharati had decided in January last year, ending an uncertainty that had prevailed for a decade. This decision will benefit around 38,000 employees.

In reply to the discussion, I&B Minister Ambika Soni said that any association of employees desirous of recognition had to fulfill the criteria laid by the Department of Personnel and Training.

Referring to some of the questions raised, she denied that the DD Urdu was being closed down and said over Rs 800 million that would be spent over the next few years for the channel, where commissioning of programmes was also going on. Referring to DD Kashir, she said the aim was to cover all languages and dialects spoken in Jammu and Kashmir.

She said that DD Direct Plus, which was increasing its capacity to 150 free-to-air channels, would be earning Rs 30 million per channel per year as against Rs 6.5 million earlier.

She said Doordarshan and All India Radio were the only channels in the country which had never been found guilty of any violations of the Programme or Advertising Codes.

Earlier, members generally supported the Bill and felt that DD News was more authentic and DD serials were more realistic than those telecast by other private channels. However, some members felt that the public broadcaster had lost its utility and should be wound up, leaving Doordarshan and AIR to be run by the Government.

Until 2000, the employees had been deemed as full government employees and their status was changed to 'deemed employees' from 1 April 2000.

The employees working under deputation will get all facilities at par with Central government employees.

The amendment had become necessary "since the recommendations of the GoM will settle all long standing issues regarding status of employees working in Prasar Bharati and empower the public broadcaster with all disciplinary and supervisory powers, including the power to transfer."

The official amendment relating to the deemed status means amendment to section 11(2) of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill 2010 by the addition of the words "and until their retirement" at the end of the section. This will make the status of the employees recruited between 23 November 1997 and 5 October 2007, making their deemed deputation to Prasar Bharati till their retirement absolutely clear and unambiguous.
A provision has also been made to maintain the status quo in respect of employees belonging to Indian Information service and Central Secretariat service and other cadres borne outside that of All India Radio and Doordarshan. It says that the Ministry and Prasar Bharati may jointly work out the number of deputation posts to be manned by officers of the Indian Information Service cadre.

The GoM had said that employees recruited from 6 October 2007 will also be deemed to be employees of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) and subject to rules drawn up by the Board of the public broadcaster.

Though the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act was passed in June 1990, it was notified as a statutory corporation only from November 1997. Section 11 of the Act had given employees the option to decide whether they wanted to join the Corporation or go back to the government, but no action was taken as the rules for various categories of employees have not been drawn up in the past 12 years.

Accepting the recommendation of the GoM in January last year, the Cabinet had said all employees working on that date in vacant government posts and recruited as per government rules 'shall enjoy status equivalent to employees serving on deemed deputation from the date of their joining the service under All India Radio or Doordarshan till the time of their retirement'. However, they will not be entitled to any deputation allowance.'

Soni added, "The UPA government has also sanctioned Rs 1.10 billion for strengthening transmission in border areas, especially in Jammu and Kashmir," she said, adding that DD-Kashir is being watched by people in PoK also, thus reflecting its popularity.

Earlier moving the Bill, Jatua said there are a total of 40,173 sanctioned posts in Prasar Bharati of which 11,498 were vacant and the ministry was in the process of filling these. He said with the amendment of the Act, the status of the employees would be settled.

source : indian television
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