Opposition Leaders Demand Apology, Amit Shah Calls Those Rejoicing Over SC's ED Verdict 'Delusional'

Opposition leaders had been calling on the Narendra Modi government to apologise to the nation since the verdict.

New Delhi: Union home minister Amit Shah tweeted a day ago on July 11 evening, defending the Enforcement Directorate and its chief after the Supreme Court held that extensions given by the government to him were illegal. Opposition leaders, who are petitioners in the case, had been calling on the Narendra Modi government to apologise to the nation since the verdict.

Yesterday the three-judge bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol held that the two extensions given to ED chief S.K. Mishra after the apex court’s own order barring further extensions were invalid.

It however, allowed Mishra to stay on in his role till July 31, out of consideration for the Union government’s insistence that his leadership was critical in a key review conducted by the international terror watchdog FATF.

The court also held that it had little power over amendments to the Central Vigilance Commission Act and Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, to bring which the government promulgated an ordinance last year. These amendments said the tenure of the ED and CBI chiefs could be extended by up to three years after the mandated term of two years.

It was this that home minister Shah held as a sign of victory.

“Those rejoicing over the Hon’ble SC decision on the ED case are delusional for various reasons: The amendments to the CVC Act, which were duly passed by the Parliament, have been upheld,” he wrote in his tweet.

“Powers of the ED to strike at those who are corrupt and on the wrong side of the law remain the same. ED is an institution which rises beyond any one individual and is focused on achieving its core objective – i.e. to investigate offences of money laundering and violations of foreign exchange laws,” he added.

The ED has frequently targeted leaders who are in parties which are in opposition to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, to which Shah belongs. Often, when leaders being pursued by the ED have left their parties and joined BJP, cases against them have progressed very little. Five of the nine Nationalist Congress Party MLAs who recently joined the BJP in Maharashtra, including Ajit Pawar, are being investigated by various central agencies, including the ED.

“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,” he also said.

Mishra was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on November 19, 2018. Notwithstanding Shah’s line that who the ED director is “not important,” the Union government first ensured he stays on in his role through an order dated November 13, 2020, through which it modified Mishra’s appointment letter retrospectively to change his two-year term to three years.

In September 2021, the Supreme Court bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao upheld the extension, but noted that no further extension can be given to Mishra.

However, the Union government issued a notification paving the way for a second extension for Mishra from November 17, 2021 to November 17, 2022. Even though Congress leader Jaya Thakur moved court against this, the government gave him a third extension, till November 18, 2023, in addition to moving the abovementioned ordinance.

One of the petitioners in the case, Congress’s Randeep Singh Surjewala, called the verdict a “victory of justice”. He also posed several follow up questions.

“1. Ain’t all actions taken by ED Director after 17th November, 2021 per se illegal and tainted?

“2. Should there not be an independent review and investigation of every decision taken by ED Director after 17th November, 2021?

“3. Should there be not affixation of responsibility of the Political Leaders & Officers, who gave the two illegal extensions to ED Director on 17th November, 2021 and 17th November, 2022; be it the PM himself?”

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, also a petitioner in the case, wrote that opposition parties will “never surrender.”