The Finance Ministry has received a confidential advisory from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in which the agency has said that the 2013 appointment of S K Jain, the suspended chairman and managing director of Syndicate Bank, “lacked transparency and smacks of unfair practices”.
The CBI has advised the Ministry that action should be taken on the information “as deemed proper”.
The advisory, signed by CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, was sent to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on August 11. Ministry officials told The Indian Express that the advisory followed CBI’s scrutiny of voluminous banking appointment files.
Significantly, the CBI advisory mentions the role of Rajiv Takru — now Secretary in the Ministry of Development of North East Region — who was chairman of the sub-committee that recommended Jain’s appointment at its meeting on February 11, 2013. Takru was at the time Secretary, Financial Services.
The “unfair practices” cited by the CBI is a reference to the fact that the sub-committee chaired by Takru gave S K Jain 29 marks out of 30 in his interview with the Banking Appointment Board. This high score helped to elevate Jain to the post, even though he had scored only 62 out of 70 in the ACR section.
Appointment files have revealed that 18 top bankers were interviewed for the CMD’s post, and one candidate had scored 70 out of 70 in the ACR section.
The sub-committee also picked candidates for seven other top banking posts other than that of the Syndicate Bank CMD. CBI officials said that depending on the advice of the Finance Ministry, these appointments too could be put under the scanner.
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Takru defended Jain’s appointment, saying the sub-committee’s recommendation had been approved by a committee headed by then Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao.
“The appointment of S K Jain was done through an absolutely fair process,” he told The Indian Express. “The interview board had three other members including an RBI Deputy Governor, and names of all selected candidates, including that of S K Jain, were cleared by the Vigilance Commission. I was only part of a process.”