Supreme Court declares extension to ED director Mishra illegal, allows him to continue until July 31text_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the extension of Enforcement Directorate (ED) Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra's tenure was "illegal" for contravening the court's judgment in 2021. However, the court granted him permission to continue in his post until July 31, considering the concerns raised by the Union government.
Mishra's term as the ED director was originally set to conclude in November 2023. The Court stated, "Extension granted to Sanjay Kumar Mishra after Supreme Court verdict is illegal. However, he is permitted to hold office till July 31, 2023."
Earlier this year, senior advocate K.V. Viswanathan, the amicus curiae in the petitions challenging Mishra's tenure extension, argued before the Supreme Court that the extension was unlawful. Viswanathan referred to the top court's previous decisions in Vineet Narain & others vs. Union of India and Common Cause vs. Union of India to support his argument.
Viswanathan contended that the extension was illegal not only because of the direction in the Common Cause judgment, stating that Mishra should not receive a further extension beyond November 2021, but also due to specific observations made in the judgment emphasising that extensions should only be granted under exceptional circumstances.
The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the extension of the ED Director's tenure and the 2021 amendment to the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003, which empowers the Central government to extend the tenure of the ED Director.
In response to the PIL challenging Mishra's tenure extension, the Central government submitted a counter-affidavit to the Supreme Court, alleging that the PIL was filed with the intention of protecting Congress leaders who were facing money laundering charges. The affidavit claimed that the petition aimed to question the investigation conducted by the ED against certain politically exposed individuals, including the president and office-bearers of the Indian National Congress.
Sanjay Kumar Mishra was initially appointed as the ED Director for a two-year term in November 2018. His term expired in November 2020, and he reached the retirement age of 60 in May 2020. However, on November 13, 2020, the Central government modified the 2018 order, changing the tenure from "two years" to "three years." This modification was challenged by the NGO Common Cause before the Supreme Court.
In a September 2021 verdict, the Supreme Court approved the modification but ruled against granting further extensions to Mishra.
The Central government then introduced an ordinance amending the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, granting itself the power to extend the tenure of the ED Director for up to five years. Parliament also passed a law allowing extensions to the tenure of the ED Director for one year at a time, with a maximum limit of five years.