Home >Politics >Policy >PESB snubs PMO on selecting Air India chief
The PMO had asked the aviation ministry to form a search committee to find a replacement for Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, whose extended term is set to end in August. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
The PMO had asked the aviation ministry to form a search committee to find a replacement for Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, whose extended term is set to end in August. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

PESB snubs PMO on selecting Air India chief

The appointments regulator has told the aviation ministry it does not see any merit in constituting a search committee as the board has already started the process of choosing the CMD

New Delhi: The government’s appointments regulator has turned down a request by the civil aviation ministry, sent at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), to allow it to select the next chief of the state-owned Air India through a search committee, bypassing the usual process.

The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) has told the aviation ministry it does not see any merit in constituting a search committee as the board, which makes appointments to top managerial posts in the public sector, has already started the process of choosing the Air India chairman and managing director (CMD).

PESB would like to continue with the process, the board has told the ministry, according to two government officials who asked not to be named.

“The decision has come as a snub to the aviation ministry and could mean a tough stand by the ministry and the PMO on PESB as the directions had come from PMO to appoint a search committee," said one of the two officials.

Mint first reported on 15 January that the PMO had asked the aviation ministry to form a search committee to find a replacement for Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan, whose extended term is set to end in August.

Nandan’s term expired in August 2014 and he was granted a three-month extension then by the PMO, which turned down civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju’s plea for a two-year extension to maintain stability at the airline.

Rohit Nandan’s term was again extended till August this year after a replacement for him could not be found in those three months.

The PMO had told the civil aviation ministry that it wants a three-member committee to find a candidate to head the state-owned airline after two failed attempts to do so in the past one year.

Opting for a search committee to identify Nandan’s successor gives the government the option of routing the appointment through the appointments committee of the cabinet, which may have prompted the move.

Some 28 people, including half-a-dozen Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, applied in response to a PESB advertisement for the post of Air India chairman and managing director—a process that the PESB wants to take forward.

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