Mahua Moitra In Supreme Court Against Centre’s Move On Agency Heads’ Term

Mahua Moitra’s petition says the ordinances violate principles of fair investigation and fair trial

New Delhi:

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra has moved the Supreme Court against the centre’s ordinances to extend the tenure of the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), arguing that they are an attack on the impartiality of the probe agencies.

The chiefs of the two central agencies had a two-year tenure which can now be extended up to five years. They can be given three extensions of a year each after they complete the two-year term. Earlier today, ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who was to retire tomorrow, was given a year’s extension.

Ms Moitra in her plea says that Centre’s ordinances “attack independence and impartiality of CBI and ED” and give the Centre “unfettered discretion to pick and choose those Directors for the purposes of extension of tenure who act in line with the Government’s preferences.”

The plea adds that the ordinances “allow the Central Government to effectively control an incumbent ED Director or CBI Director by wielding the power to extend the tenures of these Directors in ‘public interest’.”

The petition says that the ordinances violate principles of fair investigation and fair trial as enshrined under Right to Equality and Right to Life in the Constitution.

The plea also challenges the constitutional validity of Centre’s ordinances. It says that is contrary to Supreme Court’s judgement in September.

In its judgment on September 8, on a plea filed by NGO Common Cause against extension of tenure for ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, the Court had upheld the decision of the Central government to make retrospective changes to his appointment order by which his tenure was increased from two years to three years. But the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai had held that the tenure of a Director of Enforcement cannot be extended beyond his date of superannuation except in “rare and exceptional cases” for a “short period”.

Ms Moitra in her petition says that Centre’s ordinances do not fulfil the criteria of “short period” and “rare cases” as prescribed in the judgement and Centre cannot nullify a Supreme Court judgement by issuing an ordinance.

The ordinances have drawn strong criticism from the Opposition, which has repeatedly alleged that the centre is using probe agencies to harass its political rivals.

The Congress has said that the government has used the ED and the CBI as “henchmen to usurp power and destabilise elected governments”.

The Trinamool Congress has moved notices for statutory resolutions in the Rajya Sabha, objecting to the ordinances. It has questioned the government’s hurry to take the ordinance route when the winter session of Parliament is barely two weeks away.

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