New Delhi: A few months after it first did so, India’s ministry of civil aviation has sent for approval to the appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) the appointment of Nasim Zaidi as chief of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The process had to be repeated following a suit challenging Zaidi’s appointment. The Delhi high court heard the case and asked the government to go ahead with its appointment.
The appointment, however, is pending a final ruling by the court. In June, the ministry had decided to appoint Zaidi, India’s representative at the International Civil Aviation Organization, or Icao, as the replacement for incumbent DGCA chief Kanu Gohain. Zaidi’s term at the Icao ended in September.
DGCA has the final word on many critical aviation functions including aircraft registration, formulation of airworthiness standards for civilian aircraft and their licensing. The regulator also oversees licensing of pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers, flight engineers?and air traffic controllers.
Zaidi was to take office by 1 September, but before the ACC could approve the appointment, Gohain’s deputy, A.K. Chopra, moved the Central Administrative Tribunal, the government’s appellate body on administrative matters, objecting to the decision.
After the tribunal quashed Zaidi’s appointment, the ministry approached the Delhi high court, which then asked it to go ahead pending a final ruling. Chopra will be eligible for the post only by March next year under government rules that mandate a candidate complete at least two years in his present post.
The ministry of civil aviation, with the Union Public Service Commission board’s approval, had reduced the eligibility criteria by changing some clauses including the experience level of the candidate applying for the DGCA’s post in April. This was done to help the government find a suitable candidate as the earlier criteria were considered too tough. “Not many candidates who applied for the job fit the bill for the job at the time,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said, asking not to be identified.
Gohain, who was to retire in June 2007, received two extensions to give the ministry time to find a suitable replacement.
After the ministry zeroed in on Zaidi, Gohain was given a three-month extension to enable a smooth transition. He was to finally leave by September-end but due to Chopra’s petition, was given another extension until the end of this month.
Zaidi’s position at Icao was to be taken up by R.K. Singh, who is at present a joint secretary in the civil aviation ministry. Singh’s appointment is also pending with the ACC due to Chopra’s petition.