The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of the Central Government to extend the tenure of the Director of the Enforcement Directorate, Sanjay Kumar Mishra.
The two-judge Bench comprising of Justices L N Rao and BR Gavai declined to intervene in the matter of extension granted by the Union of India. By the order passed on November 13, 2020, the Government had retrospectively amended the appointment order and thus the tenure of the ED director by one more year. His initial retirement was supposed to take place in May '21.
The petition was filed by the NGO "Common Cause" through Advocate Prashant Bhushan challenging the extension. The petitioner had argued that after the end of SK Mishra's tenure of two years as the Director, he would become ineligible extension of tenure as per Section 25 of Central Vigilance Commission Act.
The Court has however upheld the Centre's decision to extend Mishra's tenure by a year holding that it should only happen in 'rare and exceptional circumstances.' The Court observed that such an extension can be given to facilitate the ongoing investigation.
The Court further noted that any extension of tenure during the superannuation period has to be short and must be granted for reasons recorded. Also, it held that SK Mishra's tenure should not be extended any further.
It was argued by the Petitioner that the provisions of the CVC Act did not contemplate giving an extension to the ED Director who had already superannuated. The counsel appearing for the petitioner pleaded that the retrospective extension made a "mockery" of previous Judgments of the Supreme Court.
While the Respondent questioned the locus standi of the Petitioner to challenge the Government order and contended that Public Interest Litigations cannot be entertained in service matters. Further, it was stated that the term of the ED had to be extended keeping in mind the pendency of investigation in many high profile cases and hence such an extension was in the public interest.
The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave while the Respondent was represented by Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta during the hearing.