New Delhi: The tenure of Enforcement Directorate (ED) Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra ended on Friday after being extended four times. During his record tenure of 4 years and 10 months as ED chief, the agency initiated several controversial legal cases against politicians and organisations.
Opposition leaders who have come under ED’s target include former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivkumar, NCP founder Sharad Pawar, former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, National Conference leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah, and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
ED Special Director Rahul Naveen will take charge as the acting director of the agency.
The order issued by the Finance Ministry said that the 1993 batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer will remain the Director in-charge of ED till the appointment of the new regular Director or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
‘Is no one else capable of this?’
Mishra, a 1984-batch IRS officer, was appointed as the ED chief on November 19, 2018, for a two-year tenure. On November 13, 2020, days before his tenure was to end, Mishra’s appointment was retrospectively modified and his two-year tenure was changed to “three years”.
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Then in November 2021, days before Mishra was to step down, the President issued two ordinances – amending the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
The amendments allowed the tenure of ED and Central Bureau of Investigation chiefs to be for a period of five years from appointment and extension of three years beyond the two-year tenure, and were passed by Parliament.
In November 2021, the Center gave Mishra a second extension for one year, and again in November 2022.
The Supreme Court, which was hearing multiple petitions challenging the extension, in its July 11 verdict slammed the Center and termed Mishra’s tenure extension as “illegal”. It gave time till July 31 for Mishra to step down to enable a “smooth transition”.
On July 27, the apex court extended Mishra’s tenure till September 15 “keeping in mind the larger public interest” after the Center filed a petition seeking extension till October 15.
The Center had sought extension of Mishra’s tenure till October 15 on the grounds that his services were required for the review by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In its first judgment, the Supreme Court had asked the Center “Is there no other capable person in the department for this?”
The opposition had criticized the Center for demanding extension of service for Mishra and termed it as “an ulterior political motive”. The petitioners challenging Mishra’s extension included Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and Jaya Thakur and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.
In the hearing on July 27, Justice B.R. A three-judge SC bench led by Gavai said Mishra was being given an extension of 45 days (from July 31 to September 15) in “national and public interest”.
The bench said, “No further application for granting extension to Mishra will be considered… We further clarify that he will cease to be the Director of ED with effect from the midnight of September 15-16, 2023.”
(Editing: Almina Khatoon)
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