Hingnikar at GAIL steps down amid vigilance probe

Vol 12, PW 6 (07 Aug 08) People & Policy

GAIL human resources director MR Hingnikar is under investigation following disclosure of a probe into his financial affairs by the Central Vigilance Commission, the country’s anti-sleaze watchdog.

PETROWATCH learns from well-placed sources that the CVC has filed a chargesheet against Hingnikar alleging financial impropriety. “In its recommendation the CVC is saying the officer (Hingnikar) should be penalised,â€‌ we hear.

“They are demanding prosecution.â€‌ Details of the case are sketchy, but we learn it centres on the approval of a relatively small amount of money by Hingnikar towards GAIL’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

“He sanctioned seven or eight lakh rupees to a Hyderabad-based company,â€‌ adds a source. “The money was paid, but GAIL later discovered the company did not exist and that the money was distributed among the beneficiaries.

â€‌ Numerous efforts by this report for Hingnikar to respond proved unsuccessful and several calls to his office were not returned. More than anything the vigilance allegations against 56-year old Hingnikar raise doubts over his extension as director human resources until retirement at 60.

Last month the Public Enterprises Selection Board recommended an extension after Hingnikar was due to step down on July 27. Soon after, the oil ministry sent his file to the Department of Personnel and Training, from where it is winding its way to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Approval from the ACC, however, now looks increasingly unlikely following the vigilance chargesheet. By August 4, GAIL had already removed Hingnikar’s name from its web page where company directors are listed and by August 5 the former company director had accepted his demotion to the rank of executive director.

“No one will give him a job after this incident,â€‌ comments an observer. “It is better for him to stay at GAIL, even as ED.

At least he will get his salary, which is better than a pension.â€‌