PIL Against New Procedure for Appointments as CEO and MDs in 5 Large Banks : Supreme Court Feels Suspicious That Ex-AIBOC Boss Mr Khera is a Front Man
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It was in the first week of April 2015, that we published a comprehensive article under the heading : A Former AIBOC official Files PIL Challenging Govt Ad Inviting Applications for Posts of MD and CEO in Top 5 PS Banks . You can read the full article by clicking the above link.
At that time the above PIL was even welcomed by Mr Harvinder Singh (Present General Secretary of AIBOC) and it was confirmed Mr Singh has also represented to Hon’ble Finance Minister and Prime Minister also seeking to appoint the MDs and CEOs as per process already in place.
In the PIL, Khera said, "The government has deliberately and discriminatingly designed eligibility criteria for the top post of five large PSBs, to make only private sector applicants eligible, on account of the cut-of-age criteria. Almost all existing executive directors (EDs) in PSBs will not be able to apply for these posts on account of cut-of-age with three years experience at board level”.
At that time we have restrained ourselves of any critical review of this development as it was the peak time for the developments relating to Xth BPS. However, some of our readers have openly rejected the above idea of Mr Khera. Here are few extracts from such comments:-
(1) K R Ganesh Rao wrote in comments column : This may be proxy case of some serving EDs
(2) Mr Anil Kholi in the comments column wrote : “The Union leaders are only taking care of their personal agenda as it is evident from AIBOC Oldie Khera filing petition in supreme court as proxy for top management as also to serve his own interests. Never ever any one reached supreme court to fight for the common cause of member employees who pay monthly subscriptions and hefty levies.Pensioners retired from banks are getting poor pension after being poorly paid during service.The conditions are just pathetic. UFBU should rather file writ in supreme court to fetch dignified revision in wages/pensions on the lines of pay commissions for its employees both working and retired”
(3) Mr Sunil Mutreja while endorsing Mr Kohli wrote : I agree with the contention of Shri Anil Kohli jee, except for use of the words "Union leaders". Kohli Sir, here in this case it is the AIBOC alone which is, seemingly, acting as a proxy for top management and the interest served would be - that - they think that in this manner they would have their own man as the MD and CEO in the PSU Banks.
(4) Mr K C Dilver wrote : Had Mr. Khera @ Co filed a petition on behalf of Retired bankers,for updating there pension alongwith settlement,,,he could have recieved huge goodwill of retired bankers..
(5) Mr G V Subha Ramiaha wrote : In fact this PIL is much against the Public and specifically against the employees interest. The elegibility condition says Board level experience for three years minimum. The unions and Associations are greatly benefitted or can benefit their own community by sending eligible young employees to the Board as Director with in 50 years of age and provide them a chance to become a CEO ?CMD. This is more formidable than traversing through the unreliable and most compromised process of promotions where in the role of THREE 'W's is increasing to that of reaching to the Top in the Banks by most unworthy and undeserving. The PIL should be dismissed with costs to the petitioner
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There are many other comments in that article which indicated similar views. One thing which I feel common among all such comments was “There was a lack of trust for Kheda @ Co and AIBOC, as they have NEVER filed any PIL for the cause of retirees or serving bankers. Rather, they signed agreements like Record Note and then try to defend the same as historic achievement”. On number of occasions, even in cases filed by individuals, they have rather supported bank management, and let the individual bankers to fend for themselves. Thus, now the above PIL was considered NOT with good intentions and was viewed with ulterior motives.
I have now come across the details of the hearing of the above case in Supreme Court on 13th July 2015, wherein Mr Khera was represented by leading lawyer Mr Prashant Bhushan. Some of the interesting parts as they appear in newspapers are :-
· Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi called the petition “completely premature” and told the Court that there were highly qualified officers across the country who had not objected to the policy.
· The Supreme Court wondered why a 71-year-old man (Mr K D Khera) has challenged the process of appointment of heads of five public sector banks and even expressed suspicion of him being a "front man". When we go into the merits of the matter, we will see," the bench, also observed.
· The bench headed by chief justice H.L. Dattu also questioned the petitioner what his interest in the case was.
· Rohatgi said "the front man can't apply" and even the petition is "premature".
· The court asked the government to respond to the petitioner within two weeks.
Thus, even Supreme Court has doubted the intentions of Mr K D Khera and wondered what interest he has in this at the age of 71 years. Why Mr Harvinder Singh is interested to continue the present system of recruitment when banks are in a precarious condition on account of NPA generated by CMDs / EDs who were recruited through the present system. What is the motive of Mr Singh?
Interestingly Supreme Court also referred Mr Khera as “Front Man” i.e. he seems to have filed the PIL on behalf of people who do not want to come forward due to backlash from public / government. Indirectly, it means EDs who have been made ineligible by change in the rules may have used him as a front man to file PIL. This is exactly what our readers have doubted as Mr K R Ganesh Rao has written that it may be a proxy case for some of the serving EDs. Just see how the thinking of SC and our readers matches.
If AIBOC leadership still feels that they can always make bankers fool, they need to introspect. Now AIBOC and its ex-and present leaders have been fully exposed and may even receive wrath from the Supreme Court.
Had AIBOC been consistent in filing PILs to save the interest of the bankers and banks in past then they could have claimed that it is for the interest of the bankers and banks. However, they have always ditched the officer community, the latest being the signing of “Record Note”.
It is shame for AIBOC and its leader Mr Harvinder Singh that he is also a party to this PIL as they have openly supported Mr Khera, who is dubbed as FrontMan for filing this PIL. A lot of bankers would have been pleased if Harvinder Singh and AIBOC had filed PIL against Record Note and in favour of demands of retirees and / or serving bankers. Can Harvinder Singh & Co. claim that present system of recruitment was the best? Had it been so then we would not have seen so much NPA and politicalisation of the appointment of top posts. This system certainly needs modification.
We would not like to comment about the final outcome of the PIL as Court will be the best judge to give its verdict on number of technical issues, but it should be lesson for AIBOC that they should take initiatives to take up the issues of the Aam Banker / Officer and not fight on behalf of management.Waiting for some guidelines from Supreme Court so that the system can be improved.