ED Chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra Gets A Year-long Extension, His Third; Enters Fifth Year on Post

After getting yet another year-long extension on Thursday, Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra will now have a longer term than the seniormost bureaucrat in the country, the cabinet secretary.

Mishra, an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, will now enter his fifth year as the ED director while the maximum term that any cabinet secretary has had so far is four years. Mishra was appointed the ED chief in 2018 and the latest order says he will continue in his chair till November 18, 2023. A number of sensitive and high-profile probes, especially against various opposition leaders, are being led by the ED presently and the move is hence expected to attract swipes from the opposition parties.

Mishra will be able to serve five years in the chair as the government had last year brought in an ordinance to enable itself to give a five-year term to the ED and CBI chiefs, up from two years. The government had also argued before the Supreme Court, where the move was challenged, that the tenure of the ED chief had been earlier extended “in public interest” as various cases being probed by the agency were at a crucial juncture and continuity of officers means proper and expeditious disposal of cases.

The ordinances were later passed as bills in Parliament last December where the DoPT minister argued that “…if in the middle of an important case if you change the head of the agency, others may not be able to carry it forward in same tone” to justify the five-year-long tenures. The government termed the move in the interest of national security and the stability of the financial structure. The ED director “has a very crucial role in money laundering cases, and is possibly the only agency of its kind available in India”, the government told Parliament.

The ED is presently investigating important cases against Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, Trinamool Congress leaders in West Bengal, Aam Aadmi Party minister Satyendar Jain, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, and the National Herald row against members of the Gandhi family and many Congress leaders.

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