SC orders ED Director to vacate office by July 31

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Extension of tenure of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra is illegal: SC

New Delhi, July 11: The Supreme Court has termed illegal the extension of the tenure of ED Director Sanjay Mishra. A bench headed by Justice BR Gavai ordered Sanjay Mishra to vacate the office by July 31.

The court has upheld the laws giving the Centre the power to extend the tenure of ED and CBI directors by five years, but on extending the tenure of ED director Sanjay Mishra, it said that we had ordered in 2021 that his tenure should not be extended further. Therefore, he can now remain in his post only until July 31.

The court had reserved the judgement for May 8. During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court on behalf of the Central Government that the petitioners are associated with political parties and have vested interests; hence, their petition should be dismissed. There are serious allegations against these leaders.

On this, Justice Gavai said that you should not repeat the arguments. He had said that the court had said in 2021 itself that the tenure should be extended only under exceptional circumstances. In 2021, the court said that Sanjay Mishra’s tenure should not be extended after 2021.

The court had said that it is not on a political platform that you are discussing the political affiliation of the petitioners.

During the hearing, the petitioners said that the heads of the investigating agencies were forced to compromise by giving each a one-year extension. Doing so is an attack on the independence of the investigating agencies.

Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan had said that such an extension of service cannot make the investigation carried out by the heads of the investigating agencies independent. In such a situation, the amendment made for the extension of service should be cancelled.

During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, while supporting the arguments of advocate Gopal Sankaranarayan, said that the central government has created a probation-like situation through the amendment. The director of the probe agency is being forced to work as per the wishes of the government, and only then is he being given an extension. This affects the independence of the investigating agencies.

During the hearing, amicus curiae KV Vishwanathan, who is assisting the court in this matter, termed the service extension illegal and said that people will come and go but the institution should survive.

He said that to increase the service extension of the head of ED, the Central Vigilance Commission Act was done in 2021, which is completely illegal. He cited the judgements of Vineet Narayan, Prakash Singh II, Common Cause I, and Common Cause II.

The petition was filed by Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jaya Thakur, and Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra. The petitions said that the order to extend the tenure of Sanjay Mishra as ED director for the third time was in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court. It was said in the petition that on November 17, 2022, Mishra had again been given a one-year extension.

It was said in the petition that the Supreme Court’s order not to give further service extensions to Sanjay Mishra has been violated. The petition alleged that the central government was using its investigative agencies against the Congress president and officeholders. Congress leaders are being harassed in the name of an investigation to suppress the voice of the opposition with a spirit of political malice. This is not good for democracy.

In fact, on September 8, 2021, a bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao dismissed the petition challenging the extension of service till November 2021 received by ED Director Sanjay Mishra.

The Supreme Court said that the government has the right to extend service, but it should be done only in very urgent cases.

The court had said that service extensions should be for a limited period. The court had said that the ED director should not be given a further service extension after November 2021.

After that, through an ordinance in November 2021, the central government has made arrangements for the tenure of the directors of ED and CBI to be for five years. Under this, the tenure of ED Director Sanjay Mishra was extended until November 18, 2022.

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