Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Supreme Court to hear Trinamool Congress plea against extension of tenure of ED Director tomorrow

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The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to hear tomorrow, the petition filed by All India Trinamool Congress, challenging the Central government’s decision to extend the tenure of current Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) Sanjay Kumar Mishra.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli had agreed to list the case on July 11.

When the issue was mentioned by Senior Advocate Basava Prabhu Patil before the CJI today, Justice Ramana agreed to list it tomorrow.

As per the plea claimed by AITC spokesperson Saket Gokhale, the extension was invalid under Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission Act and in gross violation of the top court’s September 2021 judgement in Common Cause vs Union of India, wherein it was held that no further extension of tenure shall be granted to the incumbent Director of the ED.

The Supreme Court had, in its 2021 verdict, had affirmed an earlier verdict of the Central government dated November 13, 2020, which made retrospective revisions to Mishra’s appointment order, increasing his term from two to three years.

S.K. Mishra, who was first appointed as the ED Director for a two-year term in November, 2018, had reached the retirement age of 60 in May, 2020. His two-year term was to expire in November 2020.

The Central Government, however, issued an office order on November 13, 2020,
stating that the President had modified the 2018 order to the effect that the time of two years was changed to three years.

The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by an NGO called Common Cause.

A Bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai had held in September 2021 that the Central government had powers to make retrospective changes, but it should be done only in the rarest of rare cases.

The tenure of Mishra, which was set to expire, cannot be extended further, the top court had observed then.

Following the Apex Court verdict of 2021, the Centre had brought in an ordinance amending the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, empowering itself to extend the tenure of the ED Director up to five years.

The AITC petition has challenged this decision before the Apex Court. A similar petition filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur, against the same decision of the Centre, is also pending before the Supreme Court.

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