Govt asks Central Public Sector Enterprises to comply with woman director norms

New Delhi: Central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) have been asked to appoint independent women directors on their boards to comply with norms, government told the Lok Sabha today.

Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Anant Geete
Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Anant Geete

The remarks by Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Anant Geete came against the backdrop of many listed CPSEs failing to meet capital market regulator Sebi’s deadline for appointing at least one woman director on their boards.

Geete said his Ministry has asked all CPSEs to ensure appointment of non-governmental (or independent) women directors on their boards.

“The process for filling up the vacancies in these CPSEs has been initiated,” Geete said and assured that public sector undertaking would have required number of independent directors in the coming days.

He said appointment of all independent directors on the boards of CPSEs have been done on the basis of “merit”.

Companies should have complied with the norms, he said, adding special attention would be given to such matters in the future.

He was responding to a query that CPSEs were struggling to appoint women directors.

Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had given a deadline till March 31 for listed companies to appoint at least one woman director on their boards but many entities, including CPSEs, failed to comply with the norms.

Under Companies Act, 2013, also firms are required to have women directors on their boards.

He said individuals having financial links with a public sector firm are not appointed on the board of that entity.

Meanwhile, 18 CPSEs, including Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd and Cement Corporation of India, do not have requisite number of independent directors on their boards. These are entities that come under the administrative control of the Department of Heavy Industry.

While replying to a question related to NALCO, the Minister said that public sector companies are like family jewels and need to be preserved.

Responding to another query on loss-making CPSEs, Geete acknowledged that many such firms are sick and that ways are being looked on how long can they be supported by the government.