Surjewala Moves SC Against Ordinances Extending CBI, ED Heads’ Tenure

New Delhi:  Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala has moved the Supreme Court against two ordinances that allow the Central government to extend the tenure of heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for up to five years.

The plea questioned the reason for bringing the ordinance 15 days before the Parliament is to convene.

Surjewala, in the petition, contended that the extension of tenure, in this ad-hoc and episodic fashion, in fact reaffirms the control of the executive over investigative agencies and is directly antithetical to their independent functioning.

“Fixity of tenure has been repeatedly held to be an essential element in ensuring the independent functioning of government officials. A piecemeal extension system, as envisioned by the Impugned Ordinances and Notification, creates a perverse incentive for officials to serve at the pleasure of the Central government,” said the plea, filed through advocate Abhishek Jebaraj.

The CBI and ED directors are appointed for a two-year tenure.

The plea argued that this extension is against the top court rulings, which intend to insulate these agencies from any kind of political interference.

On September 8, the top court, considering the extension granted by the Centre to the incumbent ED director, said such extension should be in “rare and exceptional” circumstances and for a short period.

Surjewala also cited the 1997 decision in Vineet Narain case wherein the top court held a minimum secured tenure for CBI and ED directors, and also cited the 2019 Alok K. Verma case where the need to insulate CBI director from all extraneous influences was laid down.

“These investigative agencies were created to serve the public but with these amendments, they are being subordinated in a clear and malicious fashion to serve the will of the executive,” added the plea.

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 amendments allow the Central government to extend their original tenure by one year at a time with a rider that “no such extension shall be granted after the completion of five years in total, including the period sanctioned in the initial appointment”.

On Wednesday, Trinamool Congress MP Mohua Moitra also filed a petition challenging the two ordinances.