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SC agrees to examine plea against ordinances extending CBI, ED chiefs’ tenures

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a PIL against the two ordinances, which allows the Central government to extend the tenure of heads of the CBI and Directorate of Enforcement (ED) for up to five years.

Advocate M.L. Sharma, petitioner-in-person, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, that the tenure of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra has been extended by using powers under one of the ordinances.

The bench, also comprising justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions that the petition has not been listed so far for hearing. After briefly hearing Sharma, the bench said: “We will list it.”

The plea claimed that Centre has misused its power under Article 123 of the Constitution, which deals with President’s power to promulgate ordinances during recess of Parliament.

On November 14, two ordinances – the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance and Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance – which amended Section 25 and Section 4B of the CVC Act 2003 and DSPE Act 1946 respectively were promulgated.

The petition alleged these ordinances are “unconstitutional, arbitrary and ultra-vires” to the Constitution. The plea sought a direction from the top court to quash these ordinances.

The plea said: “By giving the government the power to extend the tenure of the heads of the two agencies to a maximum of five years, from two years, currently, the two ordinances carry the potential of further chipping away the independence of these agencies.”

The plea contended the aim of these ordinances is to circumvent the top court’s directions in a recent judgment on a petition, which challenged the retrospective change in the 2018 appointment order of Mishra as ED Director leading to extension of his tenure.

In the judgment, the top court had said the extension of tenure of officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done in rare and exceptional cases.

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