SC issues notice to Centre on plea against fresh extension to ED chief
The plea, filed through advocates Varun Thakur and Shashank Ratnoo, said that Mishra's tenure extension is destroying the democratic process of the country
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging the third extension granted to Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra.
A bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Vikram Nath said: "Issue notice returnable in six weeks." The top court sought a response from the Centre, the ED director, and the Central Vigilance Commission on a plea filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur.
The plea, filed through advocates Varun Thakur and Shashank Ratnoo, said that Mishra's tenure extension is destroying the democratic process of the country, hence the present writ petition, which may be allowed in the interest of justice.
The plea said there are several competent officers who are eligible for consideration of appointment to the post of Director of Enforcement and they should not be deprived of the opportunity to be appointed in accordance with the procedure prescribed under the CVC Act.
"Even assuming without conceding that the tenure of Respondent No.2 (Mishra) can be extended, it cannot be for a period of one year when the original appointment was made for a period of two years. The nature of duties exercised by the Director of Enforcement would involve supervision of very important investigations. Under the guise of pendency of investigations into matters which have cross-border ramifications, the tenure of the Director of Enforcement cannot be extended periodically," said the plea.
The plea contended that Centre is destroying the "basic structure" of democracy by misusing the enforcement agencies against its political opponents.
The petitioner argued that despite an order from the apex court that no further extension shall be granted to Mishra, yet the government gave him a second extension from November 17, 2021 to November 17, 2022. After this development, the petitioner filed a petition on which a notice was also issued.
On November 18, Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul recused himself from hearing a batch of petitions challenging the amended law allowing extension of up to five years for the ED Director.
Several petitions, including those filed by Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and Thakur, and Trinamool Congress' Mahua Moitra and Saket Gokhale, had moved the apex court challenging the extension to the ED director.
On September 5, the Supreme Court appointed senior advocate K.V. Viswanathan as amicus curiae in connection with a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the extension given to the tenure of the present ED Director Mishra.
The petitioners have argued that extension given to Mishra is a blatant violation of the top court's directions by promulgating an ordinance to amend the Central Vigilance Commission Act to allow an extension up to 5 years for the term of the ED Director.