NEW DELHI: Reacting to the Supreme Court’s order terming as “illegal” the third extension given to Enforcement Directorate (ED) Sanjay Kumar Mishra, home minister Amit Shah said that those who were celebrating the decision were “delusional”.
“The amendments to the Central Vigilance Commission Act Act, which were duly passed by the Parliament, have been upheld.
The powers of the Enforcement Directorate to strike at those who are corrupt and on the wrong side of the law remain the same,” the home minster tweeted.
Not important who ED chief is: Shah
Shah said the ED is an institution which rises beyond any one individual and is focused on achieving its core objective, “to investigate offences of money laundering and violations of foreign exchange laws”.
“Thus, who the ED director is – that is not important because whoever assumes this role will take note of the rampant corruption of a cozy club of entitled dynasts who have an anti-development mindset,” the minister said.
A slap on Centre’s face, says Congress
The Congress has hailed the SC’s decision as a “slap” on the government’s face. “The motive to give an extension has been questioned by the Supreme Court verdict … This is a slap on the government’s face,” said party general secretary K C Venugopal.
The opposition party also demanded that an independent investigation be instituted to scrutinse all actions taken by ED after November 17, 2021, when Mishra was granted the extension.
“This is a victory of justice and vindication of our stand on brazen misuse and compromise of ED for political vendetta as also the blatant pursuit of Modi Government’s desperate and obvious agenda,” Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter.
“This is a serious and historic indictment of the Modi government, which was so desperate to have its choice of ED Chief (for reasons apparent to all) that it completely disregarded all norms of justice, equity and fairness to install its ‘yes man’,” he alleged.
“We had hoped that the SC would strike down the law which allows such abuses of the process to take place, but for now the SC has let it stand. Nonetheless, we will continue to expose, challenge, and fight to the fullest all such attempts as the Modi Government may launch to try and undermine our democracy and our institutions,” Surjewala said.
Mishra’s tenure to end on July 31
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had curtailed Mishra’s extended tenure to July 31, instead of November.
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 CVC Act, and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to extend the tenure of ED director for a maximum of five years.
SC terms extension of ED chief tenure ‘illegal’: AAP calls it a ‘lesson’ for Centre for ‘misusing’ agency
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 Centre, 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 November 19, 2018. Later, by an order dated November 13, 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 inputs from agencies)