SC Notice to Govt in Plea Against Extension of ED Director’s Term

In November, the NGO Common Cause had challenged the Centre’s decision to extend Mishra’s tenure from 2 to 3 years.

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The Supreme Court directed WhatsApp to explain its stance by filing a counter affidavit within four weeks. Image used for representation. 

While hearing a plea against the extension of Enforcement Directorate Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s tenure, the Supreme Court on Monday, 15 February, issued notices to the Centre, Mishra and the Central Vigilance Commission.

The bench was headed by Justice LN Rao.

In November, the NGO Common Cause had challenged the Centre’s decision to extend Mishra’s tenure from two to three years.

Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Prashant Bhushan submitted that Mishra could not have been given an extension since he had already been superannuated and noted that such illegal extensions run the risk of destroying the independence of the ED director’s office, The Wire reported.

Bhushan further submitted that the ED must be free from external “influences”.

“That from the above, it is clear that the purpose behind Section 25 (d) of the CVC Act, in providing a minimum tenure of two years, is only to insulate the director of enforcement from all kinds of influences and pressures,” the petition read.

It also highlighted that “such illegalities in appointment of the director of enforcement will shake the confidence of citizens in the institution of the Enforcement Directorate.”

The director of Common Cause, Vipul Mudgal, expressed that the NGO welcomes the Supreme Court’s notice in the matter.

The petition filed in November 2020 said that the Centre’s office order on 13 November, seeking to extend Mishra’s tenure goes against Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (CVC Act), which states that a person has to be above the rank of additional secretary to the government for eligibility of appointment as a director of enforcement.

“As (Respondent No.2) Sanjay Kumar Mishra has already reached his retirement age in May 2020, therefore, after the end of Respondent No.2’s two-year period on November 19, 2020, the Respondent No.2, by virtue of not holding any post above the rank of additional secretary, would have been ineligible for appointment as a director of enforcement again,” the petition notes, The Wire reported.

(With inputs from The Wire.)

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