SC issues notice to Centre on plea against extension of ED Director’s tenure

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The Centre was handed over a notice by the Supreme Court on a plea challenging a decision of the Central government to extend the tenure of Sanjay Kumar Mishra (IRS-IT:1984) as the Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

A division bench of Justices Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat also issued notice to Mishra and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) along with the Centre and sought their responses.

The plea, filed by NGO Common Cause, sought the quashing of the Office Order dated November 13, 2020, issued by Centre retrospectively amending the tenure of Mishra. The petitioner further sought a direction to the Central government to appoint a Director of Enforcement Directorate in accordance with the mandate of Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003.

Mishra was appointed Director of ED for two years by an order dated November 19, 2018. However, the Central government on November 13, 2020, issued an office order in which it was stated that the President has modified the 2018 order to the effect that a period of two years written in the 2018 order dated was modified to a period of three years.

The plea said that there is neither any enabling provision in the CVC Act for extension of service of the Director of Enforcement nor any enabling provision which provides for such retrospective modification of appointment orders.

The NGO has contended that after the end of Mishra’s two-year tenure as Director, Enforcement Directorate, he would have been ineligible for appointment to the said post again by virtue of Section 25 of the CVC Act.