New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear pleas challenging two ordinances extending tenure of the ED and CBI chiefs before December 17.
A lawyer mentioned the plea challenging the ordinances before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana for early hearing.
The bench said it will hear the matter and plans to tag together all similar petitions and then fix it for hearing. The advocate requested to hear it before the beginning of winter vacation of the top court, which begins from December 17, as the Centre has already extended the tenure of ED chief and therefore there is some urgency. “Yes definitely,” said the bench.
On November 25, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a PIL against the two ordinances, which allows the Central government to extend the tenure of heads of CBI and Directorate of Enforcement (ED) for up to five years.
Advocate M.L. Sharma, petition-in-person, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana that ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s tenure has been extended by using powers under one of the ordinances. After briefly hearing Sharma, the bench said: “We will list it”.
The plea claimed that the Centre has misused its power under Article 123 of the Constitution, which deals with president’s power to promulgate ordinances during recess of Parliament.
On November 14, two ordinances — Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance and Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance — which amended Section 25 and Section 4B of the CVC Act 2003 and DSPE Act 1946 respectively were promulgated.
The petition alleged these ordinances are “unconstitutional, arbitrary and ultra-vires” to the Constitution. The plea sought a direction from the top court to quash these ordinances.
The plea said: “By giving the government the power to extend the tenure of the heads of the two agencies to a maximum of five years, from two years, currently, the two ordinances carry the potential of further chipping away the independence of these agencies”.
The plea contended the aim of these ordinances is to circumvent the top court’s directions in a recent judgment on a petition, which challenged the retrospective change in the 2018 appointment order of Mishra as ED director leading to extension of his tenure.
In the judgment, the top court had said the extension of tenure of officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done in rare and exceptional cases.