The chief of Enforcement Directorate became the first to receive a year's extension in service days after the government passed an executive order to extend tenure of investigation agency chiefs. Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who was to retire tomorrow, will now be in office till November 18, 2022 -- or till further notice, read the order. With this extension, the second for SK Mishra as chief of Enforcement Directorate, he will complete four years in the post.
The chiefs of the central agencies had a two-year tenure which, after the ordinance, can be stretched up to five years. They can be given three extensions of one year each after they complete the two-year term.
Mr Mishra's extension, which came first on November 13 last year, was challenged in the Supreme Court. But the judges had refused to interfere, saying the CVC Act does not limit the tenure to two years and extensions can be given to wrap up ongoing cases.
But there was a caveat -- such extensions for officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done in rare and exceptional cases.
The ordinances passed on Sunday have also been challenged in the top court -- with the petitioner claiming that they have been passed to circumvent the top court's caveat, and cut down the independence of investigating agencies.
The Ordinances have set of a huge political battle. The Congress has attacked the Centre, saying the government has used the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation as "henchmen to usurp power and destabilise elected governments" and they are now being rewarded.
Raids by ED and CBI on the Opposition leaders has become a norm, said senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. "Now, these henchmen are being empowered & rewarded with 5 yrs tenure, so that malicious prosecution is used to silence dissenting voices," he tweeted.
The Trinamool Congress has moved notices for statutory resolutions in the Rajya Sabha, objecting to the ordinances.
"Two brazen Ordinances extend ED and CBI Director terms from 2 to 5 years #Parliament Winter Session begins two weeks from now. Be rest assured, Opposition parties will do all it takes to stop India from turning into an elected autocracy," tweeted Trinamool's Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien.
Trinamool has also challenged the ordinances in court. The party's senior leader Mahua Moitra tweeted, "My petition just filed in Supreme Court challenging Union Ordinances on extension to CBI & ED Director tenures being contrary to SC own judgements".