Terms of CBI, ED chiefs may be extended to five years
Two months after the Supreme Court ruled that extensions beyond the date of superannuation of an individual should be rare and in exceptional cases only, the Centre on Sunday brought in two ordinances empowering itself to post the chiefs of two premier investigating agencies — the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) — for up to five years.
The ordinances say that the CBI and ED directors can now get an extension up to three more years beyond their fixed tenure of two years.
The decision is likely to benefit current ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of the 1984 batch, whose tenure comes to an end later this week, as the ordinance makes him eligible to head the agency for another two years. Mishra has been ED chief since November 2018.
The apex court, while hearing a petition by NGO Common Cause challenging Mishra’s one-year extension in November 2020, cleared the government’s decision but said that he should not be granted any further extension.
A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai said at that time, “We do not intend to interfere with the extension of tenure of the second respondent (Mishra) in the instant case for the reason that his tenure is coming to an end in November 2021. We make it clear that no further extension shall be granted to the second respondent.”
However, the ordinance amending Section 25 of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, which governs the appointment and tenure of the ED director, appears to circumvent the apex court order and is likely to benefit Mishra. It is not clear whether the government has already decided to extend his tenure or not.
A new proviso in the CVC Act states that the ED director, including his initial appointment (fixed tenure of two years), can get an extension up to five years but every extension will be given for a year at a time.
The second ordinance promulgated by the President of India on Sunday pertains to the amendment of Section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which deals with the tenure of the CBI director. On the lines of the ED director, a similar provision has been inserted for the extension of the CBI chief’s tenure by a year three times beyond the initial fixed appointment of two years. Currently, Maharashtra cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Subodh Kumar Jaiswal heads the CBI, but his fixed tenure of two years began this May. No officer can get more than five years’ tenure as CBI or ED chief, according to the ordinances.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner, Vigilance Commissioners, Secretaries of Home Ministry, Revenue department and Department of Personnel decide on the appointment of ED Director. The prime minister, the leader of Opposition and the chief justice of India decide on the appointment of the CBI Director.