Center brought ordinance to extend tenure of CBI, ED chiefs
The heads of central agencies currently have a two-year term. The ordinance is apparently aimed at ensuring the continuity of current ED chief SK Mishra, who is already on an extension, reaching 60 in 2020. His term would have ended on November 17.
Both the ordinances have been signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
According to the ordinances, heads of top agencies can be given an extension of up to three years every year after completing the two-year term.
“Provided that the period for which the Director of Enforcement holds office on his initial appointment may, in the public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee under clause (a) and for reasons to be recorded in writing, be extended to a years at a time: Provided that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in aggregate including the period mentioned in the initial appointment,” reads an official statement.
A Supreme Court bench – headed by Justice LN Rao – recently passed an order in a case related to the extension of Mishra, who took office in 2018, underlining the extension of tenure “only in rare and exceptional cases”. should be done in itself”. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, submitted that the extension of tenure beyond the age of retirement was done because the officer was “preferred”.
“You can’t just go for giving extensions. It demoralizes (other) officers. If you are a favorite of the government, you will be appointed and if you are not an independent officer, you will not be appointed,” argued Dave.
Government law officer Tushar Mehta defended the government, saying, “The (appointments) committee looked at the performance appraisal report of each candidate for the last 10 years. For the last 10 years, the report said he was ‘excellent’. Our country Such decisions are not made by anyone’s whims and fancies by the system prepared by him.”
To this, Justice LN Rao said: “Even if Mishra is excellent, we cannot continue with him till all these cases are over. He is doing a good job, but the question is whether his tenure can be extended.
The retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer fraternity reacted with surprise and outrage to the move.
Yashovardhan Azad, who is currently the Central Information Commissioner and an IPS officer for 40 years, told Business Standard: “The move will bring heads of important investigative agencies to the status of daily wage earners. This will demoralize the young talent and undermine the autonomy and independence of the agencies. That the ordinances were brought just before the Parliament session means that they were not a move to reform and streamline the working of agencies, but were designed for particular individuals. I am most disappointed.”
Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said: “I am shocked. I hope this will not lead to other agency heads demanding similar extensions. If this happens it will not be in the best interest of human resource management.”
The ED enforces two central laws – the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). The agency is probing money-laundering in several high-profile bank fraud cases registered by the CBI and cases related to black money (undisclosed foreign income and assets) and imposition of the Tax Act. It has also made attachment and seizure of properties in alleged terror-financing cases linked to the First Information Report filed by the National Investigation Agency.
The ED, led by Mishra, is overseeing several cases of alleged money laundering against opposition leaders. These include allegations against bank director, Maharashtra leader Sharad Pawar’s nephew and former deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar and 70 former office bearers of the bank.
The ED also registered a money-laundering case against former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in an illegal mining case, INX Media case, related to foreign exchange violation under FEMA, alleged misappropriation of assets. Illegal transfer from From Panchkula by then CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and late party treasurer Motilal Vora to Associated Journals owned by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and many more.
A serving IPS officer on condition of anonymity said: “Now the government can say to the ED chief: ‘Today you have done a good job. Let’s see if you can continue it tomorrow. Otherwise…'”.
A senior civil servant said this is not the first instance of the government’s pick-and-pick policy regarding heads of investigative agencies. When the issue of appointing Rakesh Asthana as Commissioner of Delhi Police came up, the government gave an affidavit in the court that there is an existing crop of officers in Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, Union Territory cadre (from where the Delhi Police Commissioner is usually located). Pick) did not have a suitable person, which is why he was forced to bring in an officer from outside the cadre for the job.
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