Sunday, December 3, 2023

Supreme Court issues notice to Centre on extension of ED Director’s tenure

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central government on petitions challenging the latter’s decision regarding extension of tenure of current Enforcement Directorate Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli sought response from the Centre and listed the matter for further hearing after 10 days.

The order came on at least eight petitions filed by Congress and AITC leaders and others, challenging the extension of tenure of ED Director.

The petitioners included Dr Jaya Thakur, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Saket Gokhale, Mahua Moitra, Krishna Chander Singh, Vineet Narain and Manoharlal Sharma.

They contended that the Central government’s decision to extend Mishra’s tenure was in violation of the top court’s September 2021 verdict, which ruled against any more extensions to Mishra.

In September last year, the Apex Court had affirmed an earlier judgement 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.

Mishra was first appointed as ED Director for a two-year term in November, 2018. His term expired in November, 2020. In May 2020, he reached the retirement age of 60.

However, on November 13, 2020, the Central Government issued an office order, stating that the President had modified the 2018 order to the effect that a time of ‘two years’ was changed to a period of ‘three years.’ This was challenged before the Supreme Court by NGO Common Cause.

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

The Court had also said that the tenure of Mishra, which was set to expire, cannot be extended further.

Following the Apex Court’s decision last year, the Central government 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.

This decision has now been challenged before the top court.

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