3rd Extension for ED Chief Illegal: Supreme Court
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that the third extension granted to Enforcement Directorate chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra was "illegal" and curtailed his extended tenure till July 31.
A three-judge bench of Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Sanjay Karol said that in view of the peer review being conducted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this year and to enable smooth transition, Mishra’s term as ED director will be till July 31.
The 1984-batch IRS officer was otherwise to remain in office till November 18, 2023, according to the notification issued by the government.
The apex court, however, affirmed the amendments of the Central Vigilance Commission Act and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to extend the ED director’s tenure for a maximum of five years.
The Supreme Court had on May 8 had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the third extension of service granted to the ED chief, which was defended by the Centre on grounds of the peer review being conducted by FATF.
On December 20 last year, the top court had sought the response of the Centre and others to a plea challenging the third extension granted to Mishra. It had issued notices to the Union of India, the Central Vigilance Commission and the ED director on a plea filed by Jaya Thakur, which accused the Central government of destroying the basic structure of democracy by misusing the enforcement agencies against its political opponents.
The bench gave the verdict on a batch of petitions, including those filed by Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and Mr Thakur, and the Trinamul Congress’ Mahua Moitra and Saket Gokhale.
Sanjay Kumar Mishra, 62, was first appointed director of the ED for two years on November 19, 2018. Later, by an order dated November 13, 2020, the Central government modified the appointment letter retrospectively and his two-year term was changed to three years.
The government promulgated an ordinance last year under which the tenure of the ED and CBI chiefs could be extended by up to three years after the mandated term of two years.