The PMO has objected to the way the MoF selected Sunita Sharma to fill up a post which fell vacant in May 2014.
The two posts of managing directors in state-owned Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) continue to be vacant as there is a major difference of opinion between the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of Finance over the selection of candidates.
The PMO has objected to the way the finance ministry selected Sunita Sharma — who is currently the CEO of LIC Housing Finance — to fill up the post which fell vacant in May 2014 after Sushobhan Sarker retired and for which interview of five candidates were conducted in June 2015. The file noting by the finance ministry for the appointment of Sharma to fill up Sarker’s vacancy was recently returned by the PMO with some queries, said finance ministry sources.
However, the ministry has since then sent the file back to the PMO with some clarifications, probably once again recommending Sharma’s name for the appointment as MD.
Officials said the PMO had pointed out how Sharma’s name has been selected bypassing so many other senior officials who were in the race for the post. Earlier, Rajesh Kandwal, who is currently CEO of LIC’s Bahrain operations and Hemant Bhargava, currently the zonal manger of LIC’s Delhi operations had represented to the government about not being considered for the interview to fill up Sarker’s vacancy. Both Kandwal and Bhargava — who have put in more than 32 years of service and have residual services of five years in 2014 — are senior to the candidates who were called for the interview but they were excluded by the finance ministry.
The finance ministry had justified its decision to exclude these officials from the selection process on the basis of a policy which warrants that all those officials who appear for the interview thrice consecutively but have not been selected will have to be excluded from the selection process for any new posts and fresh eligible candidates in order of seniority should be included in the zone of consideration. According to the finance ministry, all these officials were part of the selection process when chairman and three other MDs of the corporation were selected and cannot be considered any further. However, these officials had protested application of such a guideline in their cases. They said that this guideline has no application in the case of a candidate who has been selected or recommended for selection but has not been appointed for want of vacancies.
Further, it has been pointed out that such guidelines are not applied while making appointments for other PSUs, including public sector banks. However, it seems the PMO objected to finance ministry’s decision to bypass Kandwal and Bharagava.
Meanwhile, sources point out that the finance ministry has initiated the process to fill up the post of fourth MD which has fallen vacant after SB Mainak retired in February end. Earlier there was speculation that the government may not be keen on having a fourth post in the LIC. However, it is now clear that the fourth post will continue as the finance ministry had already shortlisted candidates who will be called for the interview. But the interview for the fourth post can’t be done unless the outcome of the interview that was conducted for the third post is decided, said finance ministry sources.