Supreme Court allows ED chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra to continue till Sep 15 in ‘larger public interest’
Supreme Court allows ED chief Sanjay Mishra to continue till Sep 15 in ‘larger public interest’.
In a relief to the Union government, the Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra to continue till September 15 in "larger public interest". Pronouncing the verdict on the Centre's plea to let Sanjay Kumar Mishra continue as ED director till October 15 instead of the court-mandated deadline of July 31, the apex court said there won't be any further extension and that Mishra shall cease to occupy the post from midnight of September 15-16.
The government argued that Mishra's continuation was “essential” for a positive review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that will grade India on its laws being compliant with the international protocols on tackling money laundering and financial terrorism.
During the hearing, Justice BR Gavai asked the government whether it was not giving the picture that “your entire department is incompetent? That you cannot function without one person?”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said no one is indispensable but added that the continuity would help the country as the review.
“This is not an annual exercise that someone can take over. This was last done in 2010. Then in 2019, it couldn't happen because of Covid. The continuity would help the country,” Mehta told the court.
The lawyers representing the government submitted that Mishra's removal as ED director "will lead to reputation damage" and "will negatively affect the country's image".
Earlier this month, the Justice Gavai-led bench quashed the government’s decision to grant two extensions of tenure to ED director Mishra in 2021 and 2022 and termed these orders “illegal”, giving him time till July 31 to relinquish office. The bench held that Mishra could not have been granted the extension beyond November 2021 because they came after a court order that said no further extensions be given to him.
The extension of Mishra was challenged by a bundle of petitions, which banked on the September 2021 order of the top court. The petitioners included Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jaya Thakur, and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra among others.