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Supreme Court Allows Sanjay Kumar Mishra to Continue as ED Till Sept 15 in Larger National Interest

By Harshvardhan Sharma      28 July, 2023 08:44 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Allows Sanjay Kumar Mishra to Continue as ED Till Sept 15 in Larger National Interest

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday permitted IRS officer Sanjay Kumar Mishra to continue as director of the Enforcement Directorate till September 15, 2023, in larger national interest.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol said in ordinary circumstances, the court would not have allowed the ED director to continue but the Centre has projected the larger national interest.

The court, however, said no further application seeking Mishra’s extension will be entertained and he would cease to remain as ED chief from September 16, 2023.

Dealing with a batch of petitions filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur and others, the Supreme Court had on July 11 termed extensions granted to Mishra as illegal and ordered that he would not continue beyond July 31.

On Thursday, acting on a plea by the Centre to allow Mishra to continue till October 15 due to ongoing FATF review, the bench extended his term till September 15.

During the hearing, the court, however, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, if we are not giving a picture that the ED is full of incompetent persons and there is only one person in the country who is competent enough to head the ED and if it is not demoralising the entire force.

Mehta said in view of the ongoing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review, which is at a critical stage, the continuity in office would help the country and this is not an annual exercise that someone can take over, and this was last done in 2010 and then in 2019 it couldn't happen because of Covid.

He said this review will decide the country's eligibility for the international credit and it is a coincidence that the court's judgement came when the peer review was going on.

The bench said in ordinary course the court could have said that he should not hold office from the judgement date or declare earlier appointments illegal but for smooth transition, the court gave him time July 31, 2023.

Mehta urged the court to extend his tenure to October 15 at least.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for one of the petitioners, submitted that the court had dealt with the issue of FATF, which was argued by Centre during the main hearing in the matter, and this is like saying the whole country is on the shoulders of one person.

He opposed the extension to Mishra’s tenure, saying FATF started at the beginning of year and it ends in 2024 and it has 40 parameters, and money laundering is only one aspect.

In context of FATF review, senior advocate Anoop G Chaudhary, representing another petitioner, said there is national investigation agency, CBI, several bureaus and all institutional agencies made to achieve the process, and ED is a very small part of it.

He said that it cannot be said without ED, nothing can happen.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause, said the Centre is trying to mislead the court as if ED is the main agency to FATF and as if this person is indispensable.

He said that if he is so important, the government can appoint them as an advisor to the director to assist him in the review.



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