New Delhi: The tenures of Directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) can be now up to a maximum of five years.
Until now, the Directors of the CBI and the ED enjoyed a fixed tenure of two years from the date of their appointment. But the chiefs can be now given extensions every year for up to three years after they complete the two-year term.
Two Ordinances to this effect were brought in by the government on Sunday and have been signed off by President Ram Nath Kovind.
A Supreme Court bench - headed by Justice LN Rao - recently gave a judgment in a case linked to the extension of Enforcement Directorate chief SK Mishra, who took charge in 2018, underscoring that the extension of tenure "should be done only in rare and exceptional cases".
The Ordinances have come ahead of the completion of Mishra’s tenure on November 17, which was extended by another year last year, in what was called as an "unprecedented move" by some critics.
The Ordinances underline that "...no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total, including the period mentioned in the initial appointment."
The move could set off questions in the upcoming Parliament session; while no immediate response was available from government officials about the need for such an order, it may result in both ED Director Sanjay Mishra and Director CBI Subodh Jaiswal getting further extension.
Since a committee, which includes the Chief Justice of India, the leader of opposition and the prime minister, appoints CBI Director, an extension beyond two years would need the committee’s approval. If a year-by-year extension has to be given, the committee will have to approve it.
The ED Director is appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a committee chaired by the Central Vigilance Commissioner and members comprising Vigilance Commissioners, Home Secretary, Secretary DOPT and Revenue Secretary.
The ordinance promulgated by the President comes into effect "at once.
The fixed term of two years was aimed at ensuring the chiefs of CBI and ED work free from government interference without worrying about any adverse action for the probes carried out by them.
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