Union Govt Moves SC to Extend ED Director S.K. Mishra's Tenure Days After 'Illegal' Ruling

A three-judge bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol had earlier in July allowed Mishra to continue in his post till July 31.

New Delhi: The Union government has moved Supreme Court seeking the extension of the Enforcement Directorate’s chief, S.K. Mishra’s tenure in office, days after the apex court ruled that earlier extensions given to him had been illegal and that he cannot be allowed to stay on in office.

LiveLaw reported through a tweet that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court today that the Union government is filing an application with regards to the recent judgment on Mishra’s tenure. Requesting this application to be listed in front of the court before Friday, July 28, SG Mehta said, “We are making some prayer that will have to persuade this court.”

The bench agreed to list it at 3.30 pm tomorrow, July 27.

Mishra’s term will end on July 31.

Earlier in July, the Supreme Court had held that extensions given to Mishra after its own earlier order barring further extensions were invalid.

A three-judge bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol had allowed Mishra to continue in his post till July 31.

This was because the Union government had said that the international terror financing watchdog FATF’s peer review process can be best overseen by Mishra. The Wire had reported on how a country is judged on at least 40 parameters by the FATF and the Enforcement Directorate’s remit of money laundering and terror financing is just one of those 40.

In its July order, the Supreme Court had also, however, noted that it had little power over amendments to the Central Vigilance Commission Act and Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. These were brought through ordinances by the government and allowed ED and CBI chiefs’ tenures to be extended by up to three years after the mandated term of two years. Notably, the Union government brought these changes after the Supreme Court had already ordered it to not give the ED chief further extensions.

This line taken by the SC had faced criticism, with newspaper editorials asking why the court was not exercising its power of judicial review.

In the aftermath of the SC’s verdict, Union home minister Amit Shah had tweeted that it was a sign of victory. Shah had also claimed that the institution of the ED “rises beyond any one individual” – a notion that the current application filed by his government would go against.

“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,” Shah had said after the verdict.

Under the Narendra Modi government, the partisan role of central investigative agencies like the ED and the CBI have come under the scanner, with opposition leaders almost exclusively targeted by these two bodies. Cases registered against such leaders also tend to fall by the wayside when politicians jump ship and join BJP.