The finance ministry has received a confidential advisory from the Central Bureau of Investigation in which it has stated that the 2013 appointment of SK Jain, the suspended chairman and managing director of Syndicate Bank, “lacked transparency and smacks of unfair practices”. The CBI has also advised the ministry that action could be taken on the information dispatched “as deemed proper”.
The advisory, signed by CBI director Ranjit Sinha, was sent to finance minister Arun Jaitley on August 11. Significantly, the advisory also mentions the role of Rajiv Takru (presently secretary in the ministry of development of north east region) since he was chairman of the subcommittee that recommended the appointment of Jain as CMD at a meeting held on February 11, 2013.
Takru was then secretary, financial services, and ministry officials told The Indian Express that the advisory follows the scrutiny of voluminous banking appointment files by the probe agency.
The “unfair practices” cited by the CBI in the communication is a reference to the fact that the subcommittee headed by Takru gave Jain a score of 29 marks out of 30 in his interview before the Banking Appointment Board. This score helped Jain be recommended for the post despite the fact that he had a score of only 62 out of 70 for the annual confidential report (ACR) section.
In all, the appointment files have revealed, there were 18 top bankers being interviewed for the CMD’s post, with one candidate even having a score of 70 out of 70 in the ACR section.
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Along with the Syndicate Bank CMD’s post, the selection for seven other top banking posts was also done by the subcommittee during the August 11, 2013, meeting. CBI officials said that these appointments could also be put under the scanner depending on the advice they receive from the finance ministry.
While the CBI has asserted that the CMD’s selection “lacked transparency”, Takru himself defended the appointment and said that the appointments were recommended by the subcommittee but finally approved by a committee headed by then Reserve Bank of India governor D Subbarao. “The appointment of SK Jain was done through an absolutely fair process,”’ he told The Indian Express. “The interview board had three other members including a deputy RBI governor and names of all selected candidates, including SK Jain, were then cleared by the Vigilance Commission. I was only part of a process.”
Ritu Sarin | The Financial Express