The Centre today defended in the Supreme Court the decision on retrospective change in the 2018 appointment order of Sanjay Kumar Mishra as Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and said that there is a consistent trend to run a parallel administration by filing petitions by various organisations with regards to appointments.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai that the committee headed by CVC met and took note of his tenure.
He questioned the locus of the petitioner NGO “Common Cause” on the issue.
“We cannot rule out the possibility of such PIL being filed by such vested interest. The Court’s august forum may not be misused. These organisations exist as professional PIL filing organisations. This is the third Petition filed by the same organisation. This is a consistent trend to run a parallel administration,” the Solicitor General argued.
Responding to his submission, the bench said, “Don’t you think that PILs are important to raise the voice of people in democracy?”
Mr Mehta replied that there are some organisations whose only purpose is to file pleas.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the NGO, told the court that the matter is a very important issue of public law and the order extending Mr Mishra’s tenure as Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) cannot be a worse abuse of executive power than this.
Mr Dave submitted that Mr Mishra was re-appointed beyond the age of 60 years and his term was not extended.
“Total period including extension does not exceed two years. If the government will exercise in this fashion, there would be havoc in services. Officers have legitimate expectations,” he said.
Mr Dave told the top court that the impugned order is unconstitutional and illegal.
Earlier, the court had sought responses from the Centre, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on the PIL challenging retrospective change in the 2018 appointment order of Sanjay Kumar Mishra as Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED).
It had resulted in extending Mr Mishra’s tenure as ED Director from two to three years.
Mr Mishra, an Indian Revenue Service officer was appointed as the ED Director for a period of two years by an order of November 19, 2018 and later by an order of November 13, 2020, the appointment letter was modified retrospectively by the Central government and his term of “two” years was replaced by “three” years.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, also appearing for the NGO, had said Mr Mishra could not have been given any extension since he reached the age of 60 years in May 2020 and such an illegal extension may have an impact of “destroying” the independence of the office of the Director.
Besides seeking quashing of the Office Order of November 13, 2020 by which the appointment letter of Mr Mishra was amended, the NGO has also sought a direction to the Union Finance Ministry to appoint a Director, Enforcement Directorate in a transparent manner and strictly in accordance with the mandate of Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
The NGO had moved the court just after the government had decided to amend the 2018 order and grant the extension of service of one more year to Sanjay Kumar Mishra.
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