Independent directors win: AI sacks Pawan Arora

In a major jolt for Air India's chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav, the company's board yesterday sacked Pawan Arora from the post of chief operating officer of its low-cost arm Air India Express.

Arora's appointment had become controversial, with at least four independent directors objecting to it on the ground that he did not have the necessary qualifications, and material facts about these qualifications were not brought before the board when his appointment was approved on 28 September.

The board also decided to review the procedures followed in the selection of Stephen Sukumar for the post of chief training officer for National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), till recently the holding company for Air India. A two-member review committee has been appointed to look into the process followed for the recruitment.

The development comes as a major victory for the independent directors like Mahindra & Mahindra vice chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra and FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra among others, who had also met the prime minister's principal secretary, T K A Nair, on the matter.

Reports said Arora had been asked to clarify the issues raised over his qualification in the board meeting, but he was not given the chance to defend himself.

''In fact, the board meeting of Air India Express was cancelled in the last moment leaving no scope for Arora to submit his version,'' Indian Express cited an official familiar with the development as saying. ''Arora had come prepared to clear the clouds over his qualification but he was not given any chance.