- In the last few years, the Modi government has continuously tried to sharpen the law enforcement and investigation agencies.
- Now with an ordinance that enables the government to appoint the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for five years, the government has further strengthened these agencies.
- So far, the directors of the CBI and ED were appointed for two years but with the passing of these two ordinances, they will have a stable tenure like the elected government.
In the last few years, the Modi government has continuously tried to sharpen the law enforcement and investigation agencies in order to ensure that there is respect and fear for rule of law. Now with an ordinance that enables the government to appoint the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for five years, the government has further strengthened these agencies.
So far, the directors of the CBI and ED were appointed for two years but with the passing of these two ordinances, they will have a stable tenure like the elected government. This will help in the institutionalization of these agencies as the directors would be able to take steps to sharpen the investigation tools of these agencies and look after their implementation in the five-year tenure.
The change in tenure of the CBI Director was effected by amending the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, and the changes to the tenure of the ED Director was brought in by amending the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
“Provided that the period for which the Director of Enforcement holds the office on his initial appointment may, in the public interest, on the recommendation of the Committee under clause(a) and for the reason to be recorded in writing, be extended up to one year at a time,” the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 reads.
“Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total, including the period mentioned in the initial appointment,” it added.
Most of the high-profile political and economic cases of the country are pursued by ED and CBI. Currently, these agencies are investigating the cases of Om Prakash Chautala, P Chidambaram, Raghav Bahl, Robert Vadra, Harsh Mander, and many other well-established names of Indian political, media, and business circles.
The opposition parties like Congress and DMK, whose leaders are currently under investigation by these agencies, are crying foul over the ordinance.
The ordinance comes days before the extended tenure of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who was appointed for two years in November 2018 and then given a one-year extension, comes to an end. While the government wanted to extend Mishra’s term further, the Supreme Court of India tried unnecessary intervention and asked the government to not extend the term.
“We should make it clear that extension of tenure granted to officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done only in rare and exceptional cases,” said the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai.
The court was hypocritical in the judgment that it said that it does not wish to interfere in the jurisdiction of the government but at the same time held that the tenure of the current ED director cannot be extended beyond three years.
The court’s judgment stated that the Modi government has taken the breach of the judiciary into the domain of the executive very seriously unlike the previous governments. The free hand to the judiciary by the previous governments has taken us to a state where the judges know no limits of their power.
The Modi government brought these two ordinances to show to the court that where the executive power lies. And at the same, the step will strengthen the CBI and ED. Given the political nature of the cases pursued by these agencies, sync with the executive is necessary, and five-year tenure to their directors will ensure that.
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The short-termism of the bureaucrats hurts the country because they are not able to pick necessary long-term projects, and their incentives are not designed to deliver orbit shifts. The extension of terms of CBI and ED is a step in the right direction and the same should be done in the appointment of secretaries of the various ministerial departments.
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