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Slots of ‘sacked’ independent directors lie vacant at Oil PSUs


New Delhi:  Months after the BJP government sacked most of the independent directors at top oil PSUs, the boards of blue chip firms like ONGC and GAIL are functioning with most of those positions still lying vacant.

According to data available from the Oil Ministry, state- owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd is the worst hit with all the eight positions of independent directors yet to be filled.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), India’s most profitable company, has only one independent director as against required strength of nine.

Similarly, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation’s biggest oil firm, has seven out of the 10 positions of independent directors lying vacant. Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemcials Ltd (MRPL) does not have any of the required six independent directors.

After coming to power, the BJP-led NDA had removed most of the independent directors appointed by the previous UPA government by not moving the mandatory resolutions to the shareholders for confirmation of their appointment.

All appointments to a company board – both full time and part time directors, have to be ratified by the company shareholders either at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) or postal ballot.

Government and company sources said replacements are not yet in place as the process of appointments is on.

According to the ministry data, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) has five slots vacant, Engineers India Ltd (EIL) four and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) has three vacancies. Oil India Ltd (OIL) has two while all the seven positions on Balmer Lawrie and Company Ltd (BLC) are vacant.

Chennai Petroleum Corp Ltd (CPCL) has six out of the 7 positions of independent directors vacant.

The government had last September removed former power secretary P Umashankar, former BPCL Chairman R K Singh and chartered accountant S Ravi from the board of Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC).

Just before that, five non official part time directors — C L Shah, Neela Gangadharan, Usha Kiran Rai, Jayant M Modak and John Prasad Menezes, were removed from the MRPL board.

At IOC too, resolution for confirmation of appointment of K Jairaj, Nesar Ahmad, Sunil Krishna and Sayan Chatterjee at the company’s August 27 AGM was not moved.

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