Supreme Court halts chief executive selection process at NOC
KATHMANDU, June 6: The Public Enterprises (PE) Management Board, which has initiated the process of filling vacant positions of chief executives in all state-owned enterprises through open competition, has come across another legal hurdle as the Supreme Court (SC) has instructed it to halt the selection process of managing director at Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC).
The apex court issued the stay order on Tuesday based on a complaint filed by Suresh Kumar Agarwal, acting managing director of NOC.
Agarwal, in his petition, has complained that the board had started the process of selecting the chief of NOC by overstepping similar process initiated earlier by the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies - the parent body of the state-owned firm.
The ministry, toward the end of 2011, had formed a committee to fill the top vacant post in NOC and called for applications from interested candidates. Then in January, it shortlisted five names including that of Agarwal.
But the ministry could not proceed ahead with the task, as around that time the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, referring to a similar case of Nepal Electricity Authority, ordered all ministries to put everything related to appointments on hold and leave it to the PE Management Board.
Based on the verdict, the ministry, in February, annulled the entire selection process and later informed the board about the vacant status of top management post at the oil company.
In contrast, Agarwal, in his petition, has argued the process was “terminated halfway without proper consultation”, which, he said, caused “losses to applicants”.
Although this was the crux of his petition, sources at the Ministry of Finance gave Republica a different account on why Agarwal moved the court. And they said it was the age factor.
When the PE Management Board issued a public notice in May asking qualified people to file their candidacy, one of the eligibility criteria was age, which had to be equal or less than 55. But since Agarwal had crossed the age limit he was not able to take part in the competition.
“This probably annoyed him… that´s why he sought legal help to stop the entire process,” a finance ministry official said.
This, however, is not the first time age factor has played a role in halting the selection process of chief executive at state-owned enterprises.
In May, Rameshwor Yadav, one of the candidates selected for the top post in Nepal Electricity Authority by a committee formed under the Ministry of Energy, filed a similar case at the Supreme Court after the board overtook the task of selecting the chief. Since Yadav was also over 55 and, thus, ineligible to file his candidacy, he moved the court. The court issued stay order in his case as well, bringing the entire selection process to a halt.
“All the board can now do is present necessary evidences to the court to prove the selection process was initiated by following due legal process,” the official said.