Bill to extend tenure of ED, CBI chiefs passed in LS

Congress members walk out during voice vote

Updated - December 09, 2021 10:28 pm IST

Published - December 09, 2021 08:10 pm IST - New Delhi

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla conducts proceedings in the House during the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla conducts proceedings in the House during the Winter Session of Parliament in New Delhi.

Amid strong objection from the Opposition, the Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two Bills allowing the Centre to extend the tenure of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief and the CBI Director up to five years from the current fixed tenure of two years. The Bills replace the ordinances brought in last month. Congress members walked out in protest when the two Bills were put to voice vote in the Lok Sabha.

Several Opposition MPs questioned the need to bring an ordinance days before the winter session of Parliament, and alleged that it was done to grant extension to one officer, ED chief S.K. Mishra.

Accusing the Narendra Modi Government of ‘dismantling’ checks and balances, Manish Tewari of the Congress said the Government should not bring Bills that further the perception that the ED and the CBI were frontal organisations to harass the Opposition.

Questioning the legality of the CBI, Mr. Tewari said it hangs by a stay granted by the Supreme Court to a Gauhati High Court judgment that had declared the CBI illegal.

Replying to the debate on the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), pointed out that posts such as that of the CBI Director is chosen by a high-level panel that not only included the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India but also the Leader of the Opposition or the single largest Opposition party. The Minister said the Modi Government respected the independence of agencies such as the CBI.

Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP N.K. Premachandran, who had unsuccessfully moved a statutory resolution to disapprove the Bills, said they “undermine Parliament and takes it for granted”. “It has never happened that a Bill has been passed for one officer,” he said.

A. Raja of the DMK said constitutional position was being destroyed and the President’s office undermined by the BJP. B. Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal questioned the ordinance route but supported longer tenures for the CBI and ED chiefs .

Trinamool leader Kalyan Banerjee pointed out the CBI had not started trial in the politically high profile cases like the Sharada Chit Fund scam even eight years after registering a case.

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