Lack of proper promotion and transfer policies leading to arbitrariness in decisions, amending eligibility conditions and qualifications after the recruitment process has begun, scrapping the recruitment process midway are some of the human resources issues afflicting the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), said sources.
Sources also told IANS that IRDAI which governs the sensitive insurance sector deals in public money running into thousands of crores does not have policies for Whistleblowers and a Vigilance Manual.
The human resources recruitment issue had even been raised in Parliament and other official fora, but no action has been taken, it is learnt.
The Telangana High Court’s recent verdict setting aside the promotion of Mamata Suri as the Chief General Manager (CGM) and ordering S.N. Jayasimhan, FCA, as the only person qualified for the CGM post will be the first of the several verdicts that may go against IRDAI, sources preferring anonymity told IANS.
The court also held that the power of relaxing the qualification is not vested with the Chairman since no resolution to that effect has been passed.
Hence the action of the Chairman in relaxing FCA to CFA/ICWAI and promoting Suri is contrary to law, arbitrary, and without jurisdiction.
On her part, Suri preferred an appeal against the Single Judge’s order. The Bench ordered an interim suspension of the Single Judge order, but added its order does not come in the way of the IRDAI promoting Jayasimhan in the existing vacancies.
According to sources, there are several cases filed against IRDAI by its employees against their non-promotion, transfers and other matters.
It has been reported that the Managing Director of Institute of Insurance and Risk Management (IIRM) had written to IRDAI that the institute cannot be a parking ground for some routine transfers at IRDAI to favour some and punish some.
The IIRM is promoted by IRDAI and Telangana government.
The Central government had once told the Rajya Sabha that IRDAI had received complaints relating to lowering of the age, reallocation of unfilled vacancies, pattern of questions in written exam, reservation of posts and rosters in connection with one of its recruitment drives that began in 2018.
Replying to the question raised by Rajya Sabha member Javed Ali Khan, the government in 2019 said IRDAI had to cancel that recruitment process midway in May 2019 as it found the minimum experience criteria mentioned in the notification did not explicitly specify the sector or area of work in which work experience was required.
This led to some candidates without useful experience being considered for further stages of the recruitment process.
The government had told the Upper House that in order to avoid future litigation and to maintain transparency, IRDAI cancelled its recruitment exercise.
The expenditure incurred in the process — issuing advertisement, conducting written exam and evaluation of answer sheets was about Rs 22.47 lakh.
“However, no probe was ordered to fix accountability on allowing some candidates without useful experience being considered for further stages of recruitment process. Are eligibility and qualifications being prescribed to hire select individuals,” questioned a source.
In the absence of Whistleblowers policy in IRDAI, senior officials said the officials fear they would be subjected to revengeful action by the top management if they highlight the wrongs happening in the Authority.
Curiously, way back in 2016 IRDAI had issued a Corporate Governance Guidelines for Insurers in India where it has advised insurers to have a Whistleblowers Policy.
In a reply to a query raised under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the IRDAI had replied that its staff regulations 2016 does not have any provision dealing with whistleblowers.
To another query as to the avenues available to high light or act as a whistleblower in the Authority, the IRDAI had replied: “The information sought is in the nature of a ‘query’ and does not qualify as ‘information’ as defined in Section 2 (f) of RTI Act, 2005.”
Perhaps the governance policy is only for insurers and not for IRDAI like the view, a critic need not be a performer, commented a source.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)