November 19, 2021 3:54:22 am
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala moved the Supreme Court on Thursday, challenging the Centre’s ordinances on extending the tenures of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chiefs by up to three years after they complete their two-year tenure.
The Congress is also set to take on the government on the issue in Parliament. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the party’s leader in Lok Sabha, on Thursday gave notices for moving statutory resolutions disapproving the two ordinances.
A statutory resolution moved by a member challenging a legislation has to be taken up when the Bill comes up for discussion. The member who has moved the resolution can seek division (voting) on it.
In his plea, Surjewala said the ordinances “empower the government… to provide piecemeal extensions (of one year each), following the conclusion of the fixed terms provided in their respective statutes, to the tenures” of the ED and CBI chiefs. “There is no criteria provided, save for a vague reference to ‘public interest’ and is, in fact, based on the subjective satisfaction of the respondents. This has the direct and clear impact of eroding the independence of the investigative bodies in question,” he said.
Surjewala said the ordinances and notification “are in the teeth of the express principles and safeguards laid down by” the SC in the 1998 case of Vineet Narain vs Union of India, the 2019 ruling in Alok K Verma vs Union of India & Ors, and the 2021 decision in Common Cause vs Union of India and Ors. The first two judgments, he said, “categorically dealt with the need to ensure fixity of tenure for the Director, CBI and the third judgment expressly prohibits any further extension of tenure for the Director of Enforcement. These ordinances go against the aforementioned rulings that give much-needed stability to the tenure of Director of Enforcement and the Director, CBI to protect them from political interference”.
He said the “extension of tenure, in this ad hoc and episodic fashion, in fact reaffirms the control of the Executive over investigative agencies and is directly antithetical to their independent functioning”.
“This hurried rush, of promulgating the ordinances three days before the retirement of the incumbent Director ED, is only intended to allow the government to extend the term of the said Director ED which comes to an end on November 17, 2021. This amounts to a clear abuse of power,” said the plea.
TMC leader Mahua Moitra has also approached the SC against the ordinances.
Meanwhile, Chowdhury has given three notices for moving statutory resolutions challenging the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021.
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