After IOC, Govt to Remove Directors of ONGC, HPCL, MRPL

After sacking four independent directors of IOC, the Narendra Modi-government is now seeking to remove nine similar Congress-appointees from the board of ONGC, HPCL and MRPL.

The NDA government is reviewing all appointments made by the previous UPA regime during its last year in office and is removing the political appointees wherever possible, sources said.

After getting Indian Oil Corp, the nation's largest oil firm, to drop four independent directors and Engineers India Ltd to boot out two, it is now seeking to sack former Power Secretary P Uma Shankar, chartered accountant S Ravi and former BPCL Chairman R K Singh from the board of ONGC.

It also wants chartered accountant Rohit Khanna to be removed from the board of Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL).

Also, chartered accountant C L Shah, former IAS officer Neela Gangadharan, Indian Institute of Science Professor Jayant M Modak, Professor of Marketing at Banaras Hindu University Usha Kiran Rai and ship master Capt. John Prasad Menezes are being sought to be removed from board of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), a subsidiary of ONGC.

Sources said the removal is being done in the same manner as was the case in IOC -- by not getting a resolution for their appointment approved by the shareholders at annual general meetings (AGMs) of the companies.

IOC did not move a resolution for confirmation of appointment of K Jairaj, Nesar Ahmad, Sunil Krishna and Sayan Chatterjee at its AGM in Mumbai on August 27.

In absence of shareholder approval the four, who were appointed by the previous UPA government in March this year for a three year term, ceased to be directors on IOC board.

The same mode was used to remove former HPCL director for human resources V Vizia Saradhi and former law secretary D R Meena from board of Engineers India Ltd.

The two were appointed for a three-year term on November 13, 2013 and EIL did not take a resolution confirming their appointment to its AGM held on August 28.

Sources said as per Companies Act, all appointments made to board of a company by promoters or otherwise, are valid only till holding of shareholders meeting. Once the shareholders approve, their appointment is formalised.

While Rohit Khanna was appointed part-time non official (independent) director on the Board of HPCL on September 27, 2013, the five directors being removed in MRPL were appointed on October 22 last year for three years.

Sources said UPA Cadre IAS officer of 1976 batch, P Uma Shankar, who retired as Power Secretary last year, along with S Ravi and R K Singh were appointed on ONGC board on November 29, 2013.

Other independent directors on board of ONGC -- Prof Samir Kumar Barua of IIM-Ahmedabad and former State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman O P Bhatt, who were appointd on December 13, 2011, continue to be directors on its board.

After the removals, IOC board now is left with four independent directors who were appointed more than one year back. Similar is the situation in HPCL and EIL.

Independent directors of a PSU are appointed by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) which consist of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.

It is not clear if these removals have been done with the concurrence of ACC under Modi. Sources said rules are not clear if a director can be removed by virtue of non-ratification of shareholders without ACC approval.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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