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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Iqbal Khanday fails to become Director on Board for 6 months

Govt goes unrepresented in J&K Bank due to Finance Secretary’s continued absence

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 5: Government of Jammu & Kashmir has gone unrepresented in around half-a-dozen important agenda meetings of the Board of Directors (BOD) of Jammu and Kashmir Bank in the last over five months. Senior IAS officer, Mohammad Iqbal Khanday, was appointed as Principal Secretary Finance by Omar Abdullah’s Cabinet on December 16th, 2011, but he has not been appointed or declared as Director on Board in J&K Bank since last year even as the bank’s most important annual event, Annual General Meeting (AGM), is being planned here within a month.

By convention, as well as by the bank’s Article of Association, state government’s administrative Secretary of Finance Department becomes Government’s nominee and Director on Board. However, the procedure involves filling up of a small form and customary recommendation of the bank’s Nomination Committee that sets the agenda of Finance Secretary’s appointment as Director for meeting of the Board of Directors. State Government has 53.17% share in the government-controlled company.

Even as IAS officer of 1978 batch, Mr Khanday, was appointed as Principal Secretary Finance on December 16th last year, J&K Bank’s official website continues to show his predecessor, Sudhanshu Pandey, as a Director on Board. With Khanday’s appointment as Principal Secretary Finance, Mr Pandey had been transferred and appointed Commissioner-Secretary of Power Development Department on the same day. Neither Pandey nor Khanday has attended any of the bank’s BOD meetings in the last over five months. Sources in bureaucracy insisted that the bank had not invited anybody from the state government (Finance Department) since the day of Mr Khanday’s appointment in December 2011.

Government’s representative Director was also conspicuously absent at today’s BOD meeting at the bank’s Corporate Headquarters. With this, Government went unrepresented also in Audit Committee meeting, Shareholders/Investors Grievance Committee meeting, Integrated Risk Management Committee meeting on June 4th as well as in Management Committee meeting, Monitoring of Large Value Frauds Committee meeting, IT Strategy Committee meeting, Estates Committee meeting and Legal Committee meeting on June 5th.

Chairman and head of the BOD, Mushtaq Ahmad, nominated Director on Board and RBI’s representative, Hari Narayan Iyer, besides other Directors on Board namely Mohammad Ibrahim Shahdad, Vikrant Kuthiala, Prof Nisar Ali, Abdul Majid Matoo, Rakesh Kumar Gupta and Nihal Garware participated in different groups in the said meetings. Sources disclosed to Early Times that like in the last three meetings, today’s BOD meeting had crucial agenda that necessitated presence of the Government’s director and Secretary Finance.

Bank’s Company Secretary, Abdul Majid Bhat, was not reachable foe his comments on telephone. However, officials not authorized to speak on record argued that the fault lay somewhere in Finance Department of the state government. According to them, Mr Khanday, like all other nominee directors including Chairman, was supposed to fill up a small declaration form prior to his recommendation by the bank’s Nomination Committee. On the other hand, well placed sources in Finance Department insisted that “some people in the bank” had been deliberately delaying the process. “Their callousness could be gauged by the fact that the bank’s website does mention Mr Pandey as a Director, though he has ceased to be one in the middle of December last year”, said a senior official. Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, as well as Mr Khanday had their cellphones switched off for several hours of the day.

Officials at Corporate Headquarters of the bank refused to admit that the state government had gone unrepresented in all the BOD meetings in the last nearly six months. “Out of eight Directors, we have one representative from RBI. All others, including Chairman, as nominees of the state government”, said a senior official. He claimed that the process of formally appointing Mr Khanday as a Director on Bank was currently underway.

With the two seniormost Directors, namely Mohammad Ibrahim Shahdad and Vikram Kuthiala, scheduled to retire later this month, appointment of two Directors is likely to be a key agenda item of the forthcoming AGM. Even as both, Shahdad and Kuthiala, have completed eight years each in the BOD, both of them are eligible for fresh appointment if re-nominated by the state government. If appointed, each of them could continue in BOD for the next two years. Draw of lots is not happening in the process of elimination this year as the total number of seniormost Directors is not more than two. Normally, a high power body, comprising Chief Minister and Finance Minister, picks up the nominees from a list prepared by Finance Department which finally gets sanction of the shareholders at the AGM.

With existence of Chairman and seven Directors, including the RBI representative, four slots are presently vacant in the bank’s highest decision making body. The vacancies include that of the state government’s Finance Secretary.

Previously, two Executive Directors, namely A K Mehta and Abdul Majid Mir, were also part of the bank’s BOD. While as Mehta retired on May 31, 2011, Mir reached superannuation on June 30, 2011.  However, their replacement too has not come in the last over one year. In the topmost executive level, bank has currently three Executive Presidents, namely Tafazal Hussain (36 years of service), Sahibzada Ghulam Mohiuddin (37 years of service) and Parvez Ahmad Nengroo (14 years of service). None of them has been elevated to the rank of Executive Director.

Out of 16 Presidents, three (Madan Lal Gupta, Abdul Rashid and Mohammad Afzal Khan) have retired recently and these slots are also lying vacant.


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