Refuting a news channel's charge of having reversed his stand in the appointment of the ONGC chairman, Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily clarified Thursday that the names of both the incumbent Sudhir Vasudeva and the new chairman D.K. Sarraf were under simultaneous consideration.
"The channel has made it out to be a big crime, that I have done a 180-degree U-turn," Moily told media persons here quoting from the petroleum secretary's note on appointing D.K. Sarraf, which reveals that both cases were being processed simultaneously.
Regarding the appointment of Sarraf, the petroleum secretary had noted on Dec 24 last year: "May be approved. Proposal will be effective from 1-3-2014 or a subsequent date depending on whether extension of one year is given by ACC (Cabinet Committee on Appointments) for Shri Vasudeva."
To underline that there had been no U-turn on his part, Moily said the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) was aware of this extraordinary situation.
"DoPt was aware that both proposals were being processed simultaneously," he said.
DoPT Wednesday cleared the appointment of D.K. Sarraf as chairman and managing director of the state-run explorer, by denying an extension to Sudhir Vasudeva, which was proposed by the petroleum ministry. Sarraf is the managing director of ONGC's foreign arm, ONGC Videsh (OVL).
Moily explained that Vasudeva took charge as chairman Oct 3, 2011, after a delay of nine months caused by vigilance complaints against him.
"In seeking this extension we were trying to compensate him for the time he lost," Moily said, adding that he had called the press conference to defend his official.
"He has not been granted extension. But at least, let him go with utmost honour," the minister said.
To a question why the ministry was seeking extension for a person under a vigilance cloud, Moily said: "Neither the vigilance committee (ministry) nor the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) have found anything in the complaints and there is no enquiry or investigation pending. There are only some fresh complaints, made by people who wanted to prevent his extension and we have to examine them."