The Congress on Tuesday said the Supreme Court verdict against the third extension to Enforcement Directorate chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra is a vindication of its stand and a slap on the face of the government.
The party claimed that it has now become clear how the government is “misusing” agencies to target the opposition leaders and destabilise elected governments in non-BJP-ruled states.
Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said his party has maintained from the beginning that the extension of tenure of the ED director is “totally illegal”.
“The Congress party’s stand has been vindicated. The government has been exposed today,” he said.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday held as illegal the third extension granted to the Enforcement Directorate chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra and curtailed his extended tenure to July 31. The 1984-batch IRS officer was otherwise to remain in office till November 18, 2023.
It, however, affirmed the amendments of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to extend the tenure of ED director for a maximum of five years.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol said in view of the peer review being conducted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this year and to enable a smooth transition, Mishra’s tenure will be till July 31.
“The motive was to extend the term of the ED director through illegal means. This (SC order) is actually a clear slap on the face of the government,” Venugopal told reporters.
Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala, who had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the extension of tenure, said the apex court also needs to reconsider the decision upholding the validity of the law on extension of tenure of ED and CBI directors.
In a tweet in Hindi, Surjewala said that “suppressing the voice of the people being raised through the Opposition, destabiliing democratically elected opposition governments in states, and getting the leaders of the opposition to join their party after threatening them is the motive of the BJP”.
“The whole country is watching how the Modi government has been using the investigative agencies as frontal units of the BJP,” he said.
“Today, this decision of the Supreme Court has also proved once again that the Modi government is trying to strangle democracy in broad daylight by keeping the Constitution and the law in check,” he alleged.
On May 8, the top court had reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the third extension of service granted to the Enforcement Directorate chief which was defended by the Centre on grounds of the peer review being conducted by the FATF.
The bench gave the verdict on a batch of petitions, including those filed by Surjewala and TMC’s Mahua Moitra and Saket Gokhale.
Mishra, 62, was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on November 19, 2018. Later, by an order dated November 13, 2020, the central government modified the appointment letter retrospectively and his two-year term was changed to three years.
The government promulgated an ordinance last year under which the tenure of the ED and CBI chiefs could be extended by up to three years after the mandated term of two years.