New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to clarify whether the appointment of 1984-batch IPS officer Karnal Singh as full-time Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was as per statuatory requirement.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to also clarify whether Singh’s appointment gave him a two year tenure as per the provisions of Central Vigilance Commission Act of 2003.
The apex court said the appointment letter issued to Singh on October 27, 2016, says he will cease to hold office the day he superannuates in August 2017.
“This does not comply with section 25(d) of CVC Act which fixes the tenure of director of Enforcement Directorate not less than two years. You clarify whether a new appointment letter can be issued to him or not as the appointment till the date of his superannuation is violation of statutory provisions,” the bench said.
Singh, who was holding the additional charge of the director’s post after being granted extension, was appointed a full time director of Enforcement Directorate on October 27, 2016 till August 31, 2017, the date of his superannuation.
“A Director of Enforcement shall continue to hold office for a period of not less than two years from the date on which he assumes office,” reads section 25 (d) of the CVC Act.
Rohatgi sought short time from the court to seek instruction, after which the bench posted the matter for Monday.
The apex court had on September 30 last year asked the Centre to give a time frame for appointing a full time director of the agency which probes money laundering cases.
The apex court’s direction came on a PIL filed last year by Mumbai-based former IRS officer Uday Babu Khalwadekar, who has sought quashing of ad-hoc appointment and subsequent extensions granted by the Centre to Karnal Singh as head of premier investigation agency, Enforcement Directorate, in “violation” of the law.
He had alleged that Singh had been given “ad-hoc extensions from August 2015 till November 2016” in complete contravention of Section 25 (d) of the Central Vigilance Act.
Khalwadekar, in his PIL, referred to other provisions of the CVC Act which provides that the Centre shall appoint ED Director on the recommendations of the Committee, which has the CVC as Chairperson and Vigilance Commissioners as members.
Referring to the appointment made to the post during the UPA-II regime, Khalwadekar’s petition said Rajan Katoch was the last full-time Director appointed in March 2012 and he held office for a term of 3 years till January 30, 2015 and was later given a three-months extension till April 30.
Katoch was given ad-hoc extensions till October 31, 2015, it said, adding that on August 19, the ED Director was replaced by another ad-hoc appointee Karnal Singh who is still continuing as a result of several extensions.
The ad-hoc extensions and the act of not appointing a permanent Director in ED with a secure minimum tenure is severely compromising functioning of the entire agency itself, the petition said.