'Illegal': Supreme Court sets aside 3rd extension of ED director SK Mishra
Mishra, 62, was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on 19 Nov 2018. Later, the Modi govt modified the appointment letter retrospectively and his 2-year term was changed to three years
In a big jolt to the Narendra Modi government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held the third extension granted to the Enforcement Directorate chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra as as "illegal", and curtailed his extended tenure to 31 July.
The apex court's order has prctically shut the door on further extensions to Mishra, under whose tenure the ED has been accused of targeting the Opposition at the government's behest. The conviction rate in the cases filed by the central agency has been dismal.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol said in view of the peer review being conducted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this year and to enable smooth transition, Mishra's tenure 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 bench, however, affirmed the amendments of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to extend the tenure of ED director for a maximum of five years.
On May 8, the top court had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the third extension of service granted to the Enforcement Directorate chief which was defended by the Centre on grounds of the peer review being conducted by the FATF.
The top court had on December 12 last sought the response from 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 Thakur, and TMC's Mahua Moitra and Saket Gokhale.
Mishra, 62, was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on 19 November 2018. Later, by an order dated 13 November 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.
(With PTI inputs)