New Delhi: In a surprise turn of events, incumbent Sebi chief C.B. Bhave is also being considered as a probable candidate by a high-level search panel that was set up to find his successor at the market regulator.
Bhave took charge as Sebi chairman on 18 February 2008 on a three-year term. However, the terms of chairman and whole-time directors at Sebi have been increased to five years since then. Similarly, the terms of RBI and insurance watchdog Irda’s chiefs have also been increased to five years.
Despite this, the government in September this year set up a high-level committee headed by cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to find a successor to Bhave whose term ends in February 2011.
At that time, it was said the government did not want to extend Bhave’s term to five years in the wake of a public spat between Sebi and Irda.
The search panel has already conducted initial rounds of interviews. The panel at the last moment deferred the final round that was scheduled to be held on 3 December.
Sources close to the development said that Bhave’s name is now being considered by the panel after some top policy makers asked why Bhave, like other regulators, could not be given a five-year term.
Besides, pull-out by some candidates nominated by the search panel from the process also led to the committee considering giving Bhave a two-year extension, which if given will give incumbent Sebi chairman time till February 2013.
Sources said there are some procedural problems in giving Bhave a direct two-year extension, as the process has been in place to find his successor and the search panel cannot simply ignore already short-listed candidates for the coveted job.
Therefore, the panel in most likelihood would consider Bhave as one more probable candidate for holding the position of Sebi chairman from 18 February 2011 onwards, they added.
The panel is likely to hold its next meeting on 21 Decemebr which could be its final meeting and wherein it could decide on the name of next Sebi chief after deliberating on all the short-listed candidates, including Bhave.
Until Bhave’s name came up for the panel’s consideration, those tipped to be leading the race included mutual fund industry body Amfi’s chairman, U.K. Sinha, and corporate affairs secretary R. Badyopadhyay.
The panel, which also includes finance secretary Ashok Chawla, financial services secretary R. Gopalan and department of personnel secretary Shantanu Consul as members, last met in early November to decide on the final list of candidates.
The committee had considered close to 20 candidates at its last meeting.
The finance ministry invited applications for the post of Sebi chairman in September. While the incumbent Bhave, who assumed office in 2007, has a term of three years ending in February, 2011, the next chairman would get a five-year term.
In its notification inviting applications, the finance ministry had said the Sebi chairman would have the option to receive pay equivalent to a secretary to the Government of India, or a consolidated salary of Rs 300,000 per month.
The finance ministry has further said the person preferably should have more than 25 years of professional experience and fall in the age group of 50 to 60 years.
“The chairman shall hold office for such period not exceeding five years and shall not hold office beyond 65 years of age, whichever is earlier. He is eligible for re-appointment,” it had said.