There is disquiet among some senior officials of market regulator SEBI due to a sudden change in the policy for internal promotions, sources told businessline.

On November 7, SEBI issued an internal circular to notify changes in the promotion criteria that would be effective retrospectively. In just a week on November 14, SEBI informed its staff that interviews for the promotion of officials in certain grades will be conducted on November 21. The new changes made effective by SEBI on November 7 disqualified several officials, who otherwise would have qualified for the promotion related interviews, the sources said. 

May approach court

Around 35 to 40 officials, who were hopeful of being considered for promotion, will now have to miss the interviews due to the sudden change in the policy. Some of them are considering approaching the Bombay High Court (HC) against SEBI’s arbitrary move, sources said.

As per SEBI’s internal documents seen by businessline, 24 officials have been invited for interviews on November 21 in grade E (general manager), for promotion to grade F (chief general managers), in which 22 are from the general stream and one each from research and information technology. Interviews will also be held for the post of 11 executive directors, wherein 8 can be internal candidates and not more than 3 can be external candidates. ED officials are chosen from among grade F officials.

‘Arbitary move’

SEBI officials who spoke to businessline said the conflict was arising as SEBI does not follow the government norms prescribed by Department of Personnel Training (DoPT), which is responsible for all recruitment and promotion related exercises among government agencies and statutory bodies. They said the problem is that promotion rules were changed without bringing in amendments to SEBI employees service regulations and hence the exercise is arbitrary and a pre-decided move that just suits few.

Nearly 18 officials have not been called for an interview in a particular grade. Also, there are cases where performance appraisal reports of some are missing, which highlights gaps in data management, the officials said. Senior officials including Jeny John, Jyoti Sharma, TVVPS Chakravarti T, Manjesh Roy Stephen, Rajesh Anand Gujjar, Vijaynt Kumar Verma, Sangeeta S Rathod and N Muralikrishnan are a few names who have not been called for interview based on the new criteria, which envisages higher performance score than was previously required. SEBI undertakes internal promotions annually based on the availability of vacancies and candidates. 

Changes in criteria

What changed in the criteria?

Earlier, 3 years was the minimum experience requirement for officials in grade A, B, C, D, E and F to qualify for promotions. This was changed to 5 years on November 7. SEBI has allocated 50 marks for past performance and the rest 50 are left to be scored in the interview. Earlier, for those being promoted from grade A to B and B to C, a score of 67.5 percent was considered qualifying. But that was changed to 72.5 percent for moving from grade A to B and 77.5 percent for being promoted from grade B to C and D to E. Earlier the qualifying score for moving from grade to D to E was 72 percent.  

Similarly, for moving from grade E to F, the earlier requirement was a qualifying score of 75 percent, which has now been changed to 82.5 percent. Officers in the respective grades who achieved the minimum cut-off percentage score only are called for the interview. The minimum percentage score before the interview is just a tad lower than the overall qualifying marks but it is based on past performance appraisal reports, and changing the criteria from 3 to 5 years has led to several disqualifications, the officials said. 

 A letter dated November 17 from Sebi employees association says that although employees have been invited for interviews based on past five years of performance, their annual performance appraisal ratings have not been disclosed.

Right to promotion

“As per the Supreme Court rulings, employees may not have a right to promotions but consideration for the promotions is their fundamental right. The rulings also clarify that promotion criterias cannot be changed at the whims and fancies just before carrying out the exercise. Hence, SEBI’s current exercise can be challenged in the court. But the employees union is divided on the issue since those who are getting promotion this time are not interested. Chairperson are not constant but for a regulatory body to be transparent, it has to have clear and uniform internal policies,” another official said on the condition of anonymity.

Violation of Articles

When Arun Jaitely was the finance minister, there was a proposal put forward by his ministry, which demanded that statutory bodies like SEBI, RBI, PFRDA and IRDA should fall under the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). It would have enabled officials in these organisations to bring any of their grievances to a proper adjudicating authority in CAT. But till such a proposal is accepted, SEBI officials can only approach high courts. The current exercise of promotions at SEBI violates article 14, 19, 21 and 309 of the constitution of India and is also contrary to the guidelines and directives of the Ministry of Finance, SEBI officials said.

SEBI did not reply to an email query on the matter.

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