kaul: Justice Kaul recuses himself from hearing pleas challenging ED chief’s tenure extension


Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul Friday recused himself from hearing a clutch of petitions before the Supreme Court challenging the government’s decision to extend the tenure of Sanjay Kumar Mishra as director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

“Let the matter be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders. I cannot take up the matter,” Justice Kaul said.

The pleas had come up for resumed hearing before a division bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka.

There are as many as eight public interest litigations (PILs), including the ones filed by politicians Randeep Singh Surjewala and Mahua Moitra, challenging the extension granted to Mishra. The top court had in September also appointed senior advocate KV Viswanathan as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist it in dealing with the pleas.
On Thursday, the Centre had extended the tenure of Mishra by another year till November 18, 2023. This is the third extension given to Mishra as director of ED.

The central government, in its response, in September had called the pleas challenging the extension of tenure to Mishra as “politically motivated” since the petitioners belong to political parties whose leaders are currently under the scanner of ED.

The finance ministry had informed the top court in an affidavit that a freshly appointed person may take time to take stock and acclimatise to the working of the new organisation.

“Extension in the term of the director of ED beyond two years and up to a maximum of five years was necessitated from the administrative standpoint wherein continuity of the head of the organisation is required for several cases, which are at a crucial juncture and require historical knowledge and background for supervision of such cases…continuity of officers at the helm of the agency is required for proper and expeditious disposal of cases,” the ministry said in an affidavit filed in September.

On August 2, the Supreme Court had issued notices to the Centre on petitions challenging tenure extension granted to Mishra. The petitions also challenged two ordinances promulgated last November, increasing the tenures of CBI and ED directors from two years earlier to five years. The subsequent Parliament session in December had passed the bills to replace the ordinances.


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