SC on Centre’s Plea to Modify Order on ED Director’s Term: ‘Can’t Seek Review Under Garb of Miscellaneous Application’

Supreme Court Law Insider

Savvy Thakur

Published on: November 8, 2022 at 20:05 IST

The Supreme Court postponed the hearing on Monday by two weeks in response to an application submitted by the Government of India to modify the order of September 8, 2021, which prohibited the Director of the Enforcement Directorate, Sanjay Kumar Mishra, from serving beyond November 16, 2021.

Mr. Zoeb Hossain, an advocate representing the Union Government, requested additional time to respond to the respondents’ counter affidavit.

The respondents’ advocate, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, opposed the filing of various applications for modification, which are considered reviews.

“They (Centre) are saying later we have brought a retrospective amendment to the act” was what he added.

“That would be addressed in the subsequent petition. This MA cannot be the route.”

Mr. Hossain informed the Bench that the Solicitor General of India is leading him, who is on his legs, in front of another Apex Court Bench.

He promised that the Union Government would respond to their arguments the following day.

Justices B.R. Gavai and B.V. Nagarathna bench adjourned the case for two weeks after hearing the counsel briefly. However, with regard to submitting such a Miscellaneous Application, the Judges made a few oral observations.

“Under the garb of MA you cannot seek review,” Justice Gavai concluded.

“There would be no finality then,” Justice Nagarathna added.

The Supreme Court ruled on September 8, 2021, that SK Mishra’s term as ED Director, which was set to expire on November 16, 2021, should not be extended any further in the case brought by Common Cause.

The Court had ruled in that case that the Centre could only extend the ED Director’s term beyond two years in “rare and exceptional circumstances.”

Later, in November 2021, just a few days before the end of SK Mishra’s term, the Centre issued an Ordinance to amend the CVC Act to allow the Centre to extend the ED Director’s term by up to five years.

An Act that was approved by Parliament in December 2021 took the place of the Ordinance. Mishra was granted an additional one-year extension based on the Ordinance.

On October 20, 2022, the bench gave Common Cause notice about the Center’s application to change the order from last year.

On behalf of Common Cause, Advocate Prashant Bhushan accepted the notice.

The most recent time, the Solicitor General made the argument that the application is supported by the CVC Amendment Act 2021.

The bench had said orally that it would look at the problem from the new law’s point of view and that the previous order was made on the basis of the law that was in place at the time.

A number of PILs challenging the CVC Amendment Act 2021 and the extension of SK Mishra’s term are also pending, the Solicitor General informed the Court.

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