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PESB in quagmire: Selection for board-level position postponed hours ahead of interview?

By Rakesh Ranjan- 27 Feb 2024
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New Delhi (27.02.2024): Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) abruptly postponed the interview for the selection of a Board-level position hours ahead of the scheduled time. Interview was scheduled for the position of Director (Personnel), NMDC Limited on 27.02.2024 at 5:00 pm but a postponement order was issued on 26.02.2024.
It followed the hearing scheduled for today in Telangana High Court which earlier passed a series of directions in July, August and September last year and in January 2024. The case is regarding denial of shortlisting of the name of V Srinivas (GM, Personnel), NMDC; who had moved to Telangana HC which passed an order to PESB to put the list of shortlisted candidates (dated 30.06.2023) under interim suspension up to 21.07.2023 including conducting of selection meeting that was scheduled for 14.07.2023. Reportedly, the shortlisted candidates were interviewed in the last week of July 2023 but any further action was not taken to wait for the HC’s further orders. 
Later, Telangana HC in its judgement on 04.01.2024 directed to complete selection process by considering advertisement dated 30.08.2022 to its logical conclusion by conducting recruitment interview for the post and by considering the case of appellant i.e. V Srinivas also. So, the panel of candidates interviewed in July 2023 is presumed to have included V Srinivas whose interview was scheduled today. 
Sources said that in the backdrop of HC’s decision dated 04.01.2024, PESB was expected to interview the single candidate (V Srinivas) today but it was postponed till further order. It may be underlined that PESB’s attempt to find a suitable candidate failed on 22.04.2022 as none was found suitable in the selection interview. The post was re-advertised on 30.08.2022 and process still awaits to reach a logical conclusion. 
A Navratna CPSE, single-largest producer of iron ore in India with current market capitalisation at Rs 670.52 billion, is awaiting a regular Director Personnel since 01 August 2020 when Sumit Deb (then Director, Personnel) took over as NMDC CMD. Deb continued to hold the additional charge of Director (Pers) throughout his tenure as CMD. 
Industry experts say that it cannot be just a coincidence that the key position remains under ad-hoc arrangement for more than three years. 
Appointment of Director (Personnel) is significant for its crucial role in the functioning of a CPSE as the overall in-charge for coordinating and implementing personnel and industrial relation policies, management functions and administration etc. The ad-hoc arrangement for the NMDC with more than 5000 regular employees certainly raises eyebrows on the economics of additional charges of key positions in perpetuity.
(By Rakesh Ranjan)

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