IRDAI Cancelled 'Faulty' Recruitment Drive after Spending Rs22.47 Lakh, Informs Finance Minister
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), after spending over Rs22 lakh, has cancelled its recruitment drive due to reasons like wrong criteria for experience, age and re-allocation of unfilled vacancies, among others. However, despite undertaking the exercise and spending money from the public exchequer, IRDAI says there is no need for an inquiry. This was stated by finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman, while replying to a question from Javed Ali Khan (member of Parliament- MP) in the Rajya Sabha. Insiders from IRDAI, however, allege that the process for recruitment was created to select already chosen candidates and, thus, a lot of leeway was given in the eligibility and other criteria.
As per the statement laid on the table of the house by the minister, "During the recruitment process, it was found that 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 recruitment process. Accordingly, to maintain transparency and fairness, and to avoid possible future litigation, IRDAI cancelled the recruitment exercise vide notice dated 20 May 2019, as IRDAI reserves the right to cancel the recruitment at any stage of the process."
IRDAI had received several complaints about the recruitment process started in February 2018, Ms Sitharaman says. Most of the complaints were related with experience criteria, lowering of maximum age, re-allocation of unfilled vacancies, pattern of questions in written examination, rejection of application due to late receipt, reservation of posts and rosters.
"Further, IRDAI have stated that the recruitment process was cancelled due to the reasons as stated above and as such no inquiry was necessitated," the statement says.
However, information provided by IRDAI to the Rajya Sabha is not complete. Information shared by the insurance regulator under Right to Information (RTI) Act reveals how the recruitment process was used to reject several candidates for selecting the chose ones.
For example, for the post of deputy general manager (DGM) for information technology (IT), IRDAI had received 22 application. Out of this, almost 91% or 20 applications were rejected at scrutiny stage itself. The same thing was noted for the posts of DGM (legal), assistant general manager (AGM) for IT and legal, where 87%, 81% and 92.85% applications were rejected, respectively, at the scrutiny stage itself. This left very few or in case for the post of DGM (IT) only two candidates in the fray.
In fact, there were two vacancies for the post of AGM (Legal). However, out of 42 applicants, only three remained after the scrutiny. Out of these three, only one candidate appeared for the written examination. If there is only one candidate appearing for the written examination, how would IRDAI make the selection? This raises doubts about the recruitment process itself.
Further, for posts like general manager (actuary) and DGM (IT) and DGM (legal), there was no written test conducted for reasons best known to IRDAI.
According to the reply, IRDAI has spent Rs22.47 lakh in the process, including advertisement, conducting of written examination and evaluation of answer scripts.
However, this is not the first time IRDAI had carried out similar faulty recruitment process in September 2017 as well. According to a whistleblower, the same criteria and work experience was fixed for September 2017 recruitment also, then how come it became the cause of cancellation for February 2018 recruitment process?
He says, “The recruitment notification dated 27 September 2017 consisted a lot of peculiar conditions which were unprecedented, like issuance of two corrigendum, cancellation of vacancies after issuance of corrigendum, increasing maximum age to 55 years from 50 years and restricting internal employees and officers from applying for more than two pots.”
“The maximum age was increased to accommodate three officers from Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC),” he alleges, adding, “IRDAI’s order on 3 January 2018, confirms my apprehension as these three officers were selected for the posts of GM and AGMs.”
During the September 2017 recruitment process, IRDAI was found rejecting all but one candidate at the scrutiny stage for a post. For the four posts of AGM (finance & accounts –F&A/investment), there were 56 applicants, out of which only one was selected for the interview by the regulator.
The whistleblower says, from the above table it is clear that the number of applications received by IRDAI were not too many and, yet, most of them were rejected at the scrutiny stage. IRDAI did not release a proper advertisement which led to issuance of two corrigendum and rejection of many applications at scrutiny stage.
“The unprofessional approach and casual actions by the human resources (HR) department has brought immense share and has tarnished image of IRDAI in the public and made the regulator a subject of ridicule and laughing stock. Main reason why such things happen in IRDAI is there is a lack of robust and efficient vigilance mechanism. Hope after cancelling the recruitment process for this year, IRDAI would look at the vigilance mechanism to make the process robust,” he added.