NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday fixed a hearing on March 21 on the petitions challenging the tenure extension of the Enforcement Director up to five years by amending the law.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Aravind Kumar deferred the matter, noting that it needs a detailed hearing.
𝗣𝗼𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝗹𝗮𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀: 𝗦𝗚
As the hearing commenced, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that an affidavit has been filed by the Centre, stating that the petitions have been filed by the interest parties, by such leaders against whom the ED cases are pending for money laundering.
"All political people facing serious money laundering cases have come before this court," he submitted.
To this, the top court remarked: "We are not concerned with that."
𝗘𝘅𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗺𝗮𝘆 𝗯𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗶𝗻 𝗲𝘅𝗰𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗰𝗮𝘀𝗲𝘀: 𝗔𝗺𝗶𝗰𝘂𝘀 𝗖𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗲
Senior advocate KV Vishwanathan, who has been appointed as a amicus curiae (court's friend) in the case, said extensions may only be granted in exceptional cases.
In a significant development in the petitions challenging the third extension given to ED Director SK Mishra, the amicus curiae in the matter, senior advocate K V Viswanathan told the court that the extensions were illegal.
𝗔𝗺𝗶𝗰𝘂𝘀 𝘀𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗼𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗲𝘅𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭 𝗖𝗩𝗖 𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗹
Not only the extensions but also the 2021 amendment to the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003 enabling the tenure extension of the ED up to five years is illegal, opined the amicus.
"The extension order and the statutory amendments, keeping in mind the long line of judgments from Vineet Narain, Prakash Singh 1 and Prakash Singh II, Common Cause I and 2 are illegal. Not only the extensions, but also the amendments," Viswanathan told the Bench.
𝗦𝗖 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗰𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗲'𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲
The top court had on December 12 sought the response from the Centre and others to a plea challenging the third extension granted to Envorcement Directorate chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra. One of the petitions is Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jaya Thakur.
She accused the Centre of destroying the "basic structure" of democracy by misusing the enforcement agencies against its political opponents.
The petitioner referred to a specific order passed by the Supreme Court that no further extension be granted to Mishra, but the Centre gave him the second extension from November 17, 2021 to November 17, 2022 and during the pendency of her writ petition, Mishra was again given third extension from November 18, 2022 to November 18, 2023, showing no respect towards the rule of law.
On November 18, Justice S K Kaul had recused himself from hearing the pleas challenging the law amended to all extension of up to five years to the ED director, a day after mishra was given a fresh one-year extension as the chief of the anti-money laundering agency.
𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀, 𝗧𝗠𝗖 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝗹𝗮𝘄
Mishra, 62, was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on November 19,2018 and later his term was changed to three years. The government promoted an ordinance last year to extend the tenure of ED and CBI chiefs by up to three years after the mandated term of two eyars.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala challenged the amendment made by the Centre in contradiction of two Apex Court judgments in the Vineet Narayan and the Common Cause cases on fixed tenure of such officials. Other petitioners are Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra and Saket Gokhale.
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