High Court not to interfere with Sambit Patra’s appointment as ONGC director

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The Delhi High Court on Monday said it will not interfere with the appointment of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra as an independent director on the board of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar refused to entertain the PIL also seeking cancellation of the appointment of Shashi Shanker as ONGC Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), reported PTI.

Patra, a popular face on TV channels, has was appointed as non-official director on the board of the ONGC. Among other appointees were the party’s Karnataka unit secretary Bharathi Magdum (appointed on the STC board), former Rajya Sabha MP, Bharatsinh Prabhatsinh Parmar( appointed on the board of State Trading Corporation), former MLA candidate from Odisha Surama Padhy (will join the BHEL board), BJP’s Andhra Pradesh unit Mahila Morcha head Sarnala Malathi Rani (appointed as an independent director of Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd), Sipra Goon, who contested the 2016 Assam state elections for BJP (selected as independent director of Andrew Yule & Company Ltd) and Shikha Roy, a former BJP candidate from Kasturba Nagar constituency in Delhi, (appointed on board of National Handloom Development Corporation Ltd.)Sambit Patra

The NGO, Energy Watchdog, had earlier questioned the eligibility of Patra to be appointed as an independent director and alleged that proper procedure was not followed for appointing him.

Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, had also said that the BJP spokesperson was a doctor and ONGC has nothing to do in the field of medicine to appoint him on its Board.

The Centre had defended the appointment, saying Patra was successfully running an NGO for the downtrodden which shows his management skills and hence was eligible for the post.

The NGO’s lawyer had also argued that appointing Patra to the post for a remuneration of around Rs 23 lakh per year amounted to grant of state largesse to a private person.

Shanker’s appointment as ONGC CMD was opposed on the ground that he was suspended in February 2015 for six months in connection with a probe into the award of a contract by the PSU.

It was also argued by the NGO that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) did not appear to have any record of the suspension, as per its response to a RTI query.

This is not the first time the saffron party has appointed its key functionaries to the boards of central public sector undertakings.

In may this year, the Centre’s BJP government had rewarded its key leaders with plum appointments as independent directors in the so-called navratna PSUs.

Among the beneficiaries were BJP’s Delhi unit’s vice president, Shazia Ilmi, Gujarat IT cell convenor Rajika Kacheria, the party’s minority face in Gujarat, Asifa Khan, former BJP MLA candidate from Odisha Surama Padhy and former Bihar MLC Kiran Ghai Sinha.

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