CM in quandary over appointing KERC chairman

While the CM has been batting for senior IAS officer and Finance Secretary M R Sreenivasa Murthy for the key post, the selection committee headed by justice (retd) S R Venkateshmurthy is learnt to have recommended Karnataka Appellate Tribunal Chairman A Ramaswamy as the first preference.

The committee has given second preference to Sreenivasa Murthy in its report submitted to the Government on January 16. It has recommended only two names. The post of KERC chairman fell vacant after the expiry of K P Pandey’s term on December 15.

The KERC is an autonomous body set up to regulate all aspects of the energy sector in the State. All major policy decisions of the Government in the energy sector have to be vetted by the commission. The Government, therefore, is planning to nominate an officer of its choice.

As per the rule book, the Government has to go by the selection committee’s recommendations. And if it chooses to overlook the panel’s recommendation, the Government is likely come under criticism.

Murthy’s name may find it difficult to sail through as the High Court in its July 2009 verdict over the alleged irregularities in the purchase of steaming coal for Raichur Thermal Station, had passed strictures against Murthy and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000.  Murthy headed a sub-committee on coal purchases.

Besides, Murthy may have to appear before Justice Mohan Kumar Commission which is probing into the alleged coal purchase scam, in the coming days. As a result, the Central Electricity Authority Chairman, who is a member of the selection committee, had even raised objections to recommending Murthy’s name, it is learnt.

The CM’s advisors have reportedly told him that the Government will be in embarrassing position if the Governor, who has to administer the oath of office to the new chairman, questions the government’s decision to overlook the committee’s recommendation.

Sources in the CM’s office said, the Government is planning to file an appeal before the High Court seeking a stay on its verdict. After securing the stay, it would ask the Governor to administer the oath. The CM is also planning to put the nomination on hold till March - until he presents 2010-11 budget.

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