Have chickens come home to roost ?

Readers would recall we have trying to most respectfully submit that corruption would become endemic in PSUs if the selection of the top leadership smacks of corruption. In fact, as the saying goes, Caesar’s Wife should be above suspicion; thus heads of  Central, State, and Special Recruitment Bodies need to be scrupulously clean since they have a huge responsibility for making the right choices. It cannot be denied that pressure and influence are bound to be brought upon such heads. One of the most important  KPIs for them is to remain strictly impartial. Actually, lapses in this vital area cannot be justified under any circumstance. Continuing in the position despite such lapses creates the severest of doubts in the minds of a common person and makes the holder of this post liable to impeachment.  Selection of a candidate is almost akin to performing the role of a judge and therefore requires similar exacting standards coupled with immense responsibility. 

We had brought to the attention of our esteemed readers through two articles

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 & certain issues regarding one such august body viz. PESB which is tasked with selecting top management personnel for PSUs. PESB has been in the news off and on. PESB has never been able to equal let alone surpass the high standards set and achieved by other Government Selection Bodies like the UPSC. Mind you, the selections done by PESB of PSU Board-level positions are no less important than that of the Civil Services. The finance and other responsibilities discharged by PESB nominees are phenomenal. The magnitude and impact may be several times that of most civil servants.  Still many of the recommendations have had certain repercussions.  Some have not been unequivocally accepted. Many have gone against the tide of the generally accepted performance level of the candidates. But one must appreciate that  the PSU community has rarely gone public about these things and have accepted the selections in true spirit of professional camaraderie. It’s the reason why most readers outside the PSU community do not have much information on such selections and their repercussions.

When we had attempted to bring forth the issue of board level PSU  Selection we found that there is a veil of secrecy around it. The criterion for preliminary call ups for interviews do not follow a pattern. Barring certain known elements like age, experience, years of service remaining, numbers available in the feeder cadre etc. much seems to  be opaque. Timing/Dates of the Selection Interviews also leaves much to be desired as no particular rule seems to apply. Applications for different positions are called for without any regular, declared policy for the same. Many candidates get left out due to the late call. This  leads to speculation that some particular candidate may have been made to run out the remaining period of service. All this, experts say, have led to murmurings in PSUs and unexpressed frustration. The matter came to head recently in respect of the Selection to the position of Director (Finance) in Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. One of the candidates has raised the matter before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi wherein, essentially, he stated that he had been refused an Interview by the PESU while his juniors had been called.  He prayed for allowing him to also appear before PESU along with other candidates for an interview to the post being held on 24.03.2023. He also mentioned that a decision had been taken by PESU to place Chartered Accounts above the Cost Accountants.  The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi was pleased to order on 22.03.2023 that he be permitted to appear in the scheduled interview. PESB in a document dated 24.03.2023  stated that the selection meeting for the post of Director Finance, IOCL was held on 24.03.2023. A list of candidates is given and the name of the person who had raised the matter in the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi is also shown as amongst those interviewed, in this document. There is also a sentence at the end of the document which states that the recommendation of PESB has not been finalized in compliance to the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi Order dated 22.03.2023. 

Since the matter is still subjudice all should await the final outcome of the case. Our reporting is not with an intent to cast aspersions on anyone, nor on the working of any august body but is a general and broad sharing of information with our esteemed readers. Therefore this article should be taken as that only.    

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