In a departure from past norms and guidelines, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has proposed that Shashi Shanker, selected to head India’s biggest oil and gas producer Oil & Natural Gas Corp, be initially appointed for one year — instead of five years — during which his performance would be reviewed every quarter instead of after the first year.
More than a month after the anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission cleared Shanker’s appointment, Pradhan this week approved his name as the next chairman and managing director of ONGC for the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). But with riders that go against the recommendation and guidelines of the government headhunter Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB).
Citing exploration challenges before the ONGC to raise crude oil and natural gas output, Pradhan has sought ACC approval for Shanker’s appointment with a year’s validity during which his Ministry will conduct quarterly appraisal of his performance before seeking fresh ACC mandate for further employment.
Incidentally, PESB rules say that a board-level functionary would be considered for appointment for five years or until the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier, with a provision that he/she would be assessed by the administrative ministry after the first year of his employment. The ministry, based on this, would recommend, to PESB, the incumbent’s confirmation for the balance tenure.
The PESB recommended that ONGC Director (Technical) Shanker be appointed as CMD for five years or until the date of his superannuation. Shanker is eligible for a nearly four-year term until March 2021.
Present CMD Dinesh Sarraf retires on September 30 but has been shortlisted to head the downstream regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board on superannuation.
Shanker was suspended from the current post in February 2015 for alleged irregularities in an unawarded Rs 23-crore tender for buying 21 blowout preventers. He was reinstated in July as the Supreme Court held that a government employee’s suspension could not stand beyond 90 days unless the prosecution files a chargesheet within the stipulated time.
Nearly 30 candidates had applied for the ONGC top job in May and the PESB shortlisted nine, none from the private sector.