FOUR MONTHS after he retired as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, K V Chowdary has been appointed an independent director on the board of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) — the largest Indian company by net profit and market capitalisation.
This is not the first post-retirement job for Chowdary, who retired as the CVC on June 9 this year. Less than a month later, on June 25, he took over as a director on the board of CCL Products (India) Limited.
While the CVC Act says a retired Central Vigilance Commissioner cannot take up a diplomatic assignment or for-profit government office, it doesn’t bar them from taking up a private sector job.
The Act also doesn’t stipulate a cooling-off period or whether any permission has to be sought before taking up a private sector job.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned RIL communicated the appointment in a stock exchange filing late on Friday night. “Pursuant to Regulation 30 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Regulations, 2015, please note that the Board of Directors at its meeting held today, i.e. October 18, 2019, has appointed Shri K V Chowdary as an Additional Director-Non-Executive,” it said.
It added that Chowdary was not related to any director of the company. “In accordance with the circular dated June 20, 2018, issued by the stock exchanges, we hereby confirm that Shri K V Chowdary, is not debarred from holding the office of director by virtue of any Sebi order or any other such authority,” it said.
During Chowdary’s tenure as CVC, the CBI saw one of its biggest crises following infighting between its top two officers — the then CBI Director Alok Verma and then Deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana — who levelled charges and counter-charges against each other. The Supreme Court directed Chowdary to conduct a probe into the allegations against Verma.
In a formal submission to Justice A K Patnaik, the retired Supreme Court judge supervising the inquiry, Verma said Chowdary visited his residence as an “arbitrator” for Asthana.
While Verma was sacked in January this year, Asthana was moved out. The decision to remove Verma hinged ostensibly on the CVC’s inquiry report. Chowdary, in his report, is learnt to have said that the witness, Satish Sana Babu, who implicated Asthana in a corruption case, was unreliable.
A 1978-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, Chowdary was appointed Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the top policy making body of the Income Tax department, in August 2014.
On his retirement, he was appointed as an Advisor to the Department of Revenue on issues relating to black money, before being made the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) on June 10, 2015.
His selection as CVC was challenged in the Supreme Court, but the petition was eventually dismissed as the court said the complaints could not be taken at face value.
On October 17 last year, RIL had announced the appointment of former SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya as an independent additional director on its board for a period of five years.