Former IBN CEO Pant seeks reinstatement

Kathmandu, July 13

Radhesh Pant, immediate past CEO of Investment Board Nepal (IBN), has moved the Supreme Court seeking his reinstatement as the chief executive of the IBN, citing the academic qualifications of the newly appointed CEO do not meet criteria set by government.

The Cabinet on June 23 appointed Maha Prasad Adhikari, former deputy governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, as the CEO of IBN, a government-body which oversees implementation of hydro projects of 500 megawatts or more and other projects with investment of Rs 10 billion or more.

He assumed office on June 26.

But yesterday, Pant moved apex court demanding an interim order to prevent Adhikari from continuing to work as the IBN CEO.

A petition filed by him at the court — a copy of which has been obtained by The Himalayan Times — shows Pant challenging the Cabinet’s move to appoint Adhikari as the chief executive of the body. He has asked the apex court to issue an order to halt implementation of the Cabinet’s decision.

Pant has also asked the court to reinstate him as the IBN CEO until a final verdict on the case is issued and a qualified CEO is appointed.

Pant has sought these actions based on evidences that prove that Adhikari’s academic qualifications are not adequate for CEO’s post and that the committee to select the chief executive was formed without meeting the conditions stipulated in the law.

Adhikari, on the other hand, told THT that he doesn’t want to comment on the issue as ‘it is a sub judice case’.

Pant was appointed as the IBN CEO for a four-year term on December 7, 2011. His term was renewed by late Sushil Koirala-led government on September 24, 2015.

However, after installation of government led by KP Sharma Oli, his renewed contract was terminated. Yet again on December 3, 2015, Oli-led government allowed Pant to continue serving as CEO until a new arrangement was made.

But on April 23, the government issued a vacancy notice, calling on candidates interested in the post of IBN CEO to file applications.

The government then formed a three-member committee under Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel. The committee also comprised National Planning Commission Vice Chairman Yubaraj Khatiwada and former government secretary Keshav Prasad Bhattarai as members.

Pant, in the petition filed at Supreme Court, has said the committee was formed in violation of the provision of the Investment Board Act, as it has to be formed under IBN vice chairman.

Yet nobody raised this issue at that time and 10 candidates, including Pant, applied for the post.

Then Pant, along with Adhikari and Saroj Koirala of Dharan, were shortlisted as three best candidates. The committee formed under Paudel forwarded these names to Cabinet and asked it to shortlist one candidate.

As per the Investment Board Act, candidates applying for the post of IBN CEO should have Master’s degree in Economics, Management, Engineering or Project Analysis, or Commercial Law, and 10 years of working experience.

Pant, a graduate of Indian Institutes of Technology (Mumbai) and MBA degree holder from University of California, the US, has worked in the banking and other sectors of Nepal and the US for over 20 years.

Adhikari, on the other hand, completed chartered accountancy from Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in 1993 and BBA from Tribhuvan University (TU) in 1994.

As per TU Equivalency and Recognition Booklet, a Bachelor’s degree and a degree in chartered accountancy is equivalent to Master’s degree in Commerce.

“But Investment Board Act has specifically said the candidate should have Master’s degree, not a degree equivalent to Master’s. Besides, a Master’s degree in Commerce has not been recognised by the act,” Pant has said in his petition, adding, “When Adhikari completed his chartered accountancy and BBA studies, TU had not recognised a Bachelor’s degree and a degree in chartered accountancy as equivalent to Master’s in Commerce.”