Thursday, February 2, 2023

Supreme Court issues notice to Central Government plea seeking modification in judgement barring extension to ED Director

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The Supreme Court has asked the NGO for a response on a plea by Central government seeking modification of the top court’s September 2021 judgment which had barred grant of further extension to Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED). 

A Bench comprising of Justice BR Gavai and Justice BV Nagarathna have issued the notice to the NGO Common Cause, which was accepted by advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The Court said to issue notice, returnable on 07.11.2022. Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing for the respondent waives and accepts notice.

The Apex court had last year ruled against giving any more extension to the current ED Director, Sanjay Kumar Mishra.

The Court had said that although the Central Government has powers to make retrospective  changes in the appointment of ED Director but it only be done in the rarest of rare cases.

The court said that although we have upheld the power of the Union of India to extend the tenure of Director of Enforcement beyond the period of two years, we should make it clear that extension of tenure granted to officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done only in rare and exceptional cases.

The Court also said that the extension should only be given in cases where an ongoing investigations is in place, that also after reasons are recorded by the Committee constituted under Section 25 (a) of the Central Vigilance Commission Act.

In regards to Mishra’s tenure, the Court had affirmed the retrospective revisions to Mishra’s appointment order, increasing his term from two to three years.

The Court has clearly said that there can now be no further extensions to be granted.

Last year after the Supreme Court decision last year, the Central government amended the Central Vigilance Commission empowering itself to extend the tenure of the ED Director up to five years. 

The Supreme Court has received close to 8 petitions before the top court which challenge this.

The Centre then chose to move the present plea for modification of the court verdict. 

Sanjay Kumar Mishra was first appointed as the ED Director in November 2018 for a period of two years, which expired in November 2020. In May 2020, he had reached the retirement age of 60.

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 at the Supreme Court by the NGO Common Cause.

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