The Union Government on Thursday gave a fresh one-year extension in service to the director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Sanjay Kumar Mishra, according to an official order.
This is the third extension given to the officer.
The latest order issued by the Personnel Ministry said the 1984-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer would be in office till November 18, 2023.
Mr. Mishra, 62, was first appointed as the director of ED for a stipulated period of two years, by an order on November 19, 2018.
Later, by an order dated November 13, 2020, the Central Government modified the appointment letter retrospectively and his term was replaced with three years.
The government last year brought an ordinance mandating that the tenure of the directors of the ED, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could be extended up to three years after the mandated term of two years.
Mr. Mishra was subsequently given a one-year extension then, his second.
“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved extension in tenure of Shri Sanjay Kumar Mishra, IRS (IT:84006) as Director of Enforcement in the Enforcement Directorate for a period of one year beyond 18.11.2022, ie up to 18.11.2023 or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” the Thursday order said.
The government told the Supreme Court a few months ago that Mr. Mishra’s tenure was extended in public interest as various cases were at a crucial juncture and for their proper and expeditious disposal, it was important to ensure the continuity of officers.
The Finance Ministry informed the top court through an affidavit, that a freshly-appointed person might take time to gain stock and acclimatise to the working of the new organisation.
The affidavit was submitted in response to the PILs filed by the political leaders challenging the extension of tenure of the chief and the amended law, allowing such extensions up to five years.
The apex court had on September 8, dismissed a plea challenging a retrospective change in the 2018 appointment order of Mr. Mishra as the ED director, saying that a reasonable period of extension could be granted to facilitate the completion of the ongoing investigations.
The top court had made it clear, however, that the extension of tenure of the officers who had attained the age of superannuation should be done in “rare and exceptional cases”.
It had also made clear that no further extension could be given to Mr. Mishra as the ED director.
Top leaders probed
Under Mr. Mishra’s tenure, the ED launched a probe against a number of high-profile people and politicians, including the Congress’ first family members Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband Robert Vadra.
Among the other leaders who faced ED action under Mr. Mishra were Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Karnataka Congress chief D. K. Shivakumar, former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, another Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik, National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, among others.
The agency also got deported the VVIP choppers case accused and the alleged middlemen Christian Michel and Rajiv Saxena, besides getting the extradition of fugitives like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, approved during his tenure.
The ED functions under the Union Finance Ministry and it enforces the criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act that was brought by the Modi Government in 2018, and the civil sections of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.