Govt removes 3 independent directors from ONGC board

The government has removed three independent directors, appointed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, from the board of state-run petroleum explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). The move follows similar dismissal of UPA-appointed directors from other public-sector undertakings (PSUs) such as Indian Oil Corporation, Mangalore Refinery, Coal India and Engineers India.

“P Umashankar, S Ravi, and R K Singh have ceased to be independent directors on the board of the company on September 19, 2014, the date of the 21st annual general meeting (AGM) of the company,” ONGCsaid, in a regulatory filing to the BSE.

While Umashankar is a former bureaucrat who retired as power secretary last year, Singh is the former chairman and managing director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation. Ravi is a chartered accountant.

Independent directors on PSUboards are selected by the parent ministry. The names are then sent to the selection committee of the department of public enterprises for approval, after which the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet gives the final go-ahead.

The names are ratified in the AGMfor a formal seal, according to the Companies Act.

ONGC had dropped the proposal seeking ratification of the confirmation of its three independent directors from the AGM's agenda, according to sources. In absence of the company moving the resolution, they have ceased to be directors on the company board.

P Uma Shankar, an UP-cadre IAS officer, along with S Ravi and R K Singh were appointed on ONGC board on November 29, 2013. Earlier, IOC had not moved the resolution confirming the appointment of four independent directors to its AGM on 27 August, including K Jairaj, Nesar Ahmad, Sunil Krishna and Sayan Chatterjee.

Two independent directors of CIL, former coal secretaries Alok Perti and C Balakrishnan, had resigned recently from the board prior to the company's AGM.