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ED chief’s tenure extended for probe continuity: Government | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: The Union finance ministry has told the Supreme Court that the Enforcement Directorate chief’s tenure was extended from two years up to five years in the public interest to ensure continuity in supervision and monitoring of investigations into several sensitive cases, which are at critical stages, by the incumbent director.
“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 crucial juncture and require historical knowledge and background for supervision of such cases,” the Union finance ministry said in an affidavit.
Agreeing to SC scrutiny of the decision to extend incumbent ED director Sanjay Mishra’s tenure, it said that the decision by a high-powered committee headed by the Central Vigilance Commissioner was on cogent grounds and recorded reasons were amenable to judicial review.
It said a newly appointed director would take considerable time to take stock and acclimatise to the new office and the working of the ED and could find it difficult to operate at an optimal level of efficiency. The Centre said the amendment has not tinkered with the minimum tenure of two years.
The finance ministry said it is of utmost importance for India to get a positive rating from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a joint action group by 180 countries that sets standards for global action against money laundering and financing of terror organisations, during the upcoming evaluation for 2022-23.
“This is one of the important considerations of the high-powered committee constituted under the Central Vigilance Commission Act in its November last year meeting. Keeping this consideration in mind, the committee arrived at the view that it would not only be desirable but imperative in national interest to have continuity of the incumbent director of the ED with his overall experience of the administration of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and at such a crucial juncture having a new person may not sub-serve the larger public interest,” it said.
“Keeping in view these contingencies, under certain circumstances, where there are multiple pending investigations in sensitive cases that are at crucial stages, it is reasonable for the government to desire the extended service of the incumbent officer. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the specialised work required to be administered by a premier agency is a continuous process and the person leading the organisation should have a tenure of two to five years,” it said.
Referring to the multiple PILs filed by Congress functionaries challenging the amendment giving the government the power to extend the ED director’s tenure up to a maximum of five years, the government said, “There are several investigations under PMLA ongoing against several members of the Indian National Congress for serious offences of money laundering… Therefore, these petitions are clearly motivated by an oblique personal interest rather than any public interest.”

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