Three senior bureaucrats, including Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, are believed to be in contention for the post of capital market regulator Sebi chairman after the extended tenure of incumbent U K Sinha ends early next year.
The process for choosing the next chief of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) started in September and the government has received many applications. The current tenure of Sinha, who has been at the helm of the watchdog since February 2011, ends on March 1 next year.
Sources said three senior bureaucrats are among the contenders for the post. Apart from Das, Power Secretary P K Pujari and Additional Secretary in the finance ministry Ajay Tyagi are also in contention, they added.
Das, who is a key figure in the government's economic policy-making decisions, including handling the issues related to demonetisation of high-value currencies, is already on the Sebi board as a government nominee. A senior civil servant, Das is from Tamil Nadu cadre. He is also on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) board.
Tyagi, Additional Secretary (Investment) in the Department of Economic Affairs, handles capital market, among other areas. An IAS officer from Himachal Pradesh, Tyagi, for a short while was also on the RBI board.
Pujari, a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, is the Power Secretary. He has served in various roles, including in the ministries of agriculture and finance.
A final decision will be taken by the government after taking into consideration the recommendations of the Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee (FSRASC), which has conducted the interviews and short-listed the candidates, sources said.
Generally, the chairman of Sebi is appointed for five years or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. The person would also be eligible for re-appointment.
Sinha took charge as Sebi Chairman on February 18, 2011, and was initially appointed for a 3-year term. Later, he was given a two-year extension.
Days before his last term was to end on February 17, 2016, the government approved his re-appointment to the position from February 18 till March 1 next year.
Sebi chairman receives consolidated pay package of Rs 4.5 lakh per month.
"Keeping in view the role and importance of Sebi as a regulator, it is desirable that persons with high integrity, eminence and reputation preferably with more than 25 years of professional experience and in the age group of 50-60 years may apply," the finance ministry had said in September while inviting applications for the Sebi chief post.
In July last year, the government had initiated the search-and-selection process to find Sinha's successor and it got as many as 50 applications. Despite short-listing seven candidates, the government decided to give one-year extension to Sinha.