Why question of ED chief’s tenure is back in Supreme Court

Source: The post is based on the article “Why question of ED chief’s tenure is back in Supreme Court” published in Indian Express on 9th May 2023

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has said it might revisit its 2021 ruling that the tenure of a superannuated officer may be extended only in exceptional circumstances.

What is the case about?

The tenure for directors of CBI and ED was two years. In 2020, the Central Government extended the tenure of the ED Director by a year. 

This extension was challenged in court. The court in 2021 upheld the Centre’s order extending the tenure beyond two years. 

However, the court said that extension of tenure to officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done only in rare and exceptional cases and that such extensions should be for a short period.

Later in 2021, with the one-year extension of the ED Director coming to an end, then President signed ordinances that amended the laws governing the CBI and ED, enabling the government to keep the two chiefs in their posts for one year after the completion of their two-year terms and to keep giving these one-year extensions until they complete five years as chiefs.

This extension has now been challenged in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated the 2021 ruling of the Supreme Court.

What are the observations made by Supreme Court on this case?

The Supreme Court said that it was of the prima facie view that the 2021 ruling had not been rightly decided, and required reconsideration.

The amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court argued that the extension of the tenure of the director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should be scrapped to preserve democracy.

He claimed that the extensions were invalid as they were longer than the director’s primary tenure and that if this precedent were not set aside, it would be misused by successive governments.

Note: An amicus curiae (friend of the court) is an individual or organization who is not a party to a legal case, but who is permitted to assist a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case.

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