The Congress on Monday claimed that the two ordinances brought by the Narendra Modi government that allows the Centre to extend the two-year fixed tenures of CBI Director and Enforcement Directorate chief not only takes away the independence of these agencies, but also disrespects a recent Supreme Court order.
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson and senior Supreme Court Advocate Abhishek Singhvi argued that instead of ensuring the independence of tenure, “the ordinance just does the opposite”.
“This ordinance says that I will keep you on probation, I will keep you on a tight leash, I will keep you on a master-servant relationship, I will ask you every 6 months, 9 months, look, your next extension is due next January or next March, have you behaved? Have you done his master’s voice? Have you done the master’s bidding? If you have, I may consider an extension,” Mr Singhvi said.
“The crucial word in this ordinance, is the word extension. The attempt is to substitute servility and subordination to political masters in place of independence. It is to substitute subjectivity in place of objectivity,” he added.
On Sunday, President Ram Nath Kovind promulgated two ordinances that would allow the Centre to extend the tenures of the CBI Director and ED Director chief from two years to up to five years. The chiefs of these central agencies can be given three yearly extensions once they complete the two-year term.
While the move will not immediately benefit the incumbent CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, appointed in May this year, it has come just days before the incumbent ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra is to retire.
Hearing a case that had challenged a one-year retrospective extension to Mr. Mishra in November 2020, a Supreme Court bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai had directed the government not to give any more extensions to the incumbent ED chief.
“So, Supreme Court’s order with the deepest respect is not worth the paper on which it is written, in the way you have reacted to it. Is it contumacious? Is it disrespectful? Is it completely subverting a hallowed institution of Indian democracy?” said Mr. Singhvi.