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"Slap on government's face": Congress after SC calls extension of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra's tenure "illegal"

New Delhi: After the Supreme Court held the extension of tenure of the director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Sanjay Kumar Mishra as "illegal", Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal on Tuesday said that the apex court's verdict is a "slap" on the government's face.

"This is a slap on the government's face. The motive to give an extension has been questioned by the Supreme Court verdict," Venugopal said while talking to ANI. The Supreme Court on Tuesday put a stay on the Centre's order granting a third extension to Enforcement Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra and termed the order "illegal". However, it added that Mishra will continue to serve the post till July 31. The apex court has stated that Mishra will continue to serve as ED director till July 31.

Earlier this May, the SC reserved its order on the various petitions challenging the extension of the tenure of the ED Director. After hearing submissions by all sides, a bench of Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol reserved the order.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, apprised the Court that Mishra is not the Director General of Police but he represents the country internationally and hence parliament has taken a conscious call. Mehta also apprised the court that SK Mishra will retire in November. Amicus Curiae KV Viswanathan urged the top court to strike down the amendment in the larger interest of democracy expressing fear that it will be misused by future governments.

In the last hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta defended the government's decision to extend the tenure of the ED Director and said that the money laundering offence has trans-border implications. He had said that extension was for administrative reasons as it was vital for the country's evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The court was hearing petitions challenging the Centre's decision on November 17, 2022 whereby the government extended the third tenure of ED director SK Mishra.

In an earlier hearing, Amicus Curiae Vishwanathan had raised an objection to the extension of the tenure of the ED director and submitted before the apex court that the Committee failed to consider the availability and suitability of other officers before taking a decision on the extension of tenure of ED director.

Amicus said that the office order dated November 17, 2021 did not satisfy the touchstone of 'public interest' and hence it might be set aside. On the other hand, the Centre in its affidavit had defended its decision to extend the tenure of the ED director. It said that the petition challenging it is motivated and urged the top court to dismiss the plea.

The central government submission came on an affidavit which was filed countering the submission of the petition challenging the extension of the ED director. Centre had informed the SC that the petition was clearly motivated by an oblique personal interest rather than any public interest litigations. 

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