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Supreme Court renders Modi-backed ED Chief’s extension “illegal.” Amit Shah and the opposition enter into a war of words

The 103-page long verdict by the Supreme Court read, "This court has specifically issued a mandamus that no further extension shall be granted to the second respondent (ED Chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra).

On July 11th, the Honourable Supreme Court went against the Modi Government’s decision by annulling Enforcement Directorate Chief Sanjay Mishra’s extension. The Supreme Court bench rendered Sanjay Mishra’s tenure extension illegal because it went against their previous verdict. Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s successive extensions got brought to the Court’s attention through petitions moved by opposition leaders like Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jaya Thakur, Mahua Moitra, and others.

The Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice B. R. Gavai held that Mishra could hold on to his office up to July 31st at most, during which the Modi Government must ensure a “smooth transition in the larger public interest.” 

The previous judgments by the Supreme Court on the matter

Back in 2021, the Modi Government had, via the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, made amendments to the necessary laws to safeguard the extension of the tenure of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director and ED chief up to five years. 

The Supreme Court upheld this law but maintained that it could not get used for extending Mishra’s tenure any further. The bench headed by Justice Gavai observed that despite the Government’s authority to provide an extension to the ED Chief beyond the mandatory two terms, the Modi Government’s decision to shun the Apex Court’s order by paying no heed to their judgement was impertinent.

Supreme Court rebukes the Government

The Honourable Supreme Court maintained that despite the Modi Government having the credibility to overturn its judgement in 2021 via a separate legislative act, the specific direction issued by the court (to bar extension of the ED Chief’s tenure) ought to remain binding on all parties.

The Supreme Court Verdict on Extension of ED Chief

The 103-page long verdict by the Supreme Court read, “This court has specifically issued a mandamus that no further extension shall be granted to the second respondent (Mishra). The Union of India and Mishra were both parties in the proceedings before this court in the Common Cause case. The mandamus issued to the parties was binding on them… The impugned orders dated 17 November 2021 and 17 November 2022 granting extensions to the tenure of Mishra for a period of one year each are held to be illegal.”

The Court further maintained, “This court has clearly held that nullification of mandamus by an enactment would be impermissible legislative exercise. This court has further held that transgression of constitutional limitations and intrusion into the judicial power by the legislature is violative of the principle of separation of powers, the rule of law, and Article 142 of the Constitution of India.”

Amit Shah’s tweet gains a lot of heat

Only a day after the Supreme Court connotated Mishra’s tenure extension as illegal, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah took a dig at the rejoicing opposition leaders by calling them “delusional.” 

He tweeted, “Those rejoicing over the SC decision on the ED case are delusional for various reasons. The amendments to the CVC Act, which were duly passed by the Parliament, have been upheld. Powers of the ED to strike at those who are corrupt and on the wrong side of the law remain the same.”

Amit Shah maintained that ED stood dedicated to its fight against corruption, and its functioning transcended any particular individual. In the words of the Home Minister, the agency’s core objective was investigating money laundering and violations of foreign exchange laws. He added, “Who the ED director is – that is not important, because whoever assumes this role will take note of the rampant corruption of a cosy club of entitled dynasts who have an anti-development mindset.”

Replying to his criticism, the Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal addressed the press and said, “The extension is completely illegal — this is what the Supreme Court is telling, which the Congress party was telling from the day one. Therefore, the Congress stands vindicated. The order proves the government’s motive to extend the term of the ED Director, by illegal means. That is why this is actually a clear slap on the government’s face.”

Congress Spokesperson Pawan Khera retweeted, “Why is the Home Minister commenting on an agency that technically reports to the Ministry of Finance? Does it not show that barring two people, the rest of the Cabinet is unemployed? If it does not matter to you who the Director of ED is, why was the current incumbent given two extensions and why was your government fighting for a third?”

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