Highlights:

  • Randeep Surjewala moved to the Supreme Court, challenging two recent ordinances that stretch the tenure of ED and CBI directors
  • The Congress leader has sought a plea against the two ordinances including the Personnel Ministry’s November 15 notification
  • Congress has labelled the ordinances as “illegal”

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala approached the Supreme Court on Thursday, challenging two recent ordinances that stretch the tenure of Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation directors. According to the ordinance laid down by the Centre on Sunday, their tenure can now be extended up to three years following the mandated two years term.

Reportedly, the Congress leader has sought a plea against the two ordinances including the Personnel Ministry’s November 15 notification amending the fundamental rules which allow the government to extend the tenure of ED, CBI chiefs, and Defence, Home and foreign secretaries. He has also demanded interim relief from the court.

The petition by Surjewala states, “There are no criteria provided save for a vague reference to ‘public interest’ and is in fact, based on the subjective satisfaction of the respondents. This has the direct and clear impact of eroding the independence of the investigating bodies in question.” He further maintained that the “ad-hoc and episodic” extension of tenure underlined the Executive control over investigative bodies.

Following days after the ordinances were passed, ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s tenure was extended by a year. In accordance with an official notice, he will serve in the office till 18 November 2022, or until further notice. Previously in 2020, the IAS officer had been given a one-year extension after he completed the fixed tenure. Although the Supreme Court denied intervening, it had noted to the government that Mishra could not be given any further extensions. In September 2021, the top court had upheld the government power to extend the tenure.

Referring to the SC verdict in the 1998 Jain Havala case, congress has labelled the ordinances as “illegal”. On Monday, Manish Tewari, another congress leader, demanded all parties come together and approach the top court jointly. He said, “This ordinance is a message to the officer that if we (centre) have appointed you and if you keep working as per our order, keep harassing the opposition, your tenure will be increased year after year.”

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