New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned till May 3 the hearing on pleas challenging the amended law allowing extension of up to five years for the director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A three-judge bench of Justices B R Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol deferred the matter after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought adjournment on grounds that he was busy in the constitution bench hearing on the issue of legalisation of same-sex marriage.
“Mr Solicitor, you make some alternative arrangements. We can’t keep the matter adjourning like this. Make some arrangements. We don’t want any impression to be carried that the government is unnecessarily delaying,” the bench said.
Mehta submitted that nobody anticipated that constitution bench matters would commence when this date was fixed.
On Solicitor General’s request, the bench posted the matter for hearing on May 3.
The top court had earlier disagreed with the Centre’s submission that petitions challenging the amended law allowing tenure extension of the Enforcement Directorate director up to five years should not be entertained as they have been filed by political entities facing serious money laundering charges.
It had said even if the petitioners are facing cases, they have the right to approach the judiciary for redressal of their grievances.
The top court had on December 12 last sought the response from the Centre and others to a plea challenging the third extension granted to ED chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra.
It had issued notices to the Union of India, the Central Vigilance Commission and the ED director on a plea filed by Jaya Thakur.
The plea accused the central government of destroying the basic structure of democracy by misusing enforcement agencies against its political opponents.
A batch of petitions, including those filed by Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, TMC’s Mahua Moitra and Saket Gokhale, had come up for hearing before the bench.
According to an official order, the Union government gave a fresh one-year extension to Mishra, the third for the Indian Revenue Service officer, in the position.
The notification issued by the government said the 1984 batch IRS officer will be in office till November 18, 2023.
Mishra, 62, was first appointed the director of the ED for two years on November 19, 2018. Later, by an order dated November 13, 2020, the central government modified the appointment letter retrospectively and his two-year term was changed to three years.
The government promulgated an ordinance last year under which the tenure of the ED and CBI chiefs could be extended by up to three years after the mandated term of two years.