Today, the Supreme Court of India heard a batch of petitions, in Dr. Jaya Thakur vs. Union of India & Ors., against the appointment of Sanjay Kumar Mishra and the recent amendment to the CVC Act (Central Vigilance Commission Act). A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court annulled the extension of the tenure of Director of ED (Enforcement Directorate) Sanjay Kumar Mishra on the basis that the same is violative of the 2021 judgment of the top Court. In the Supreme Court’s 2021 judgment in the Common Cause case, the bench issued a mandamus that prevents Mishra from being given any further extensions beyond November 2021. However, the bench hearing the matter today considered various concerns presented by the Union Government regarding the smooth transfer of power and peer review of the international body FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and allowed him to serve till 31 July 2023. It said, “Challenge to CVC Act and Delhi Special Police Establishment Act is dismissed to that extent. Extension granted to Sanjay Kumar Mishra after Supreme Cout verdict is illegal. However, he is permitted to hold office till July 31, 2023.” A three-judge bench includes Justice Vikram Nath, Justice Sanjay Karol, and Justice BR Gavai.
During the Court proceedings, the top Court upheld the amendments to the CVC Act made by the legislature that confer power on the Central government to extend tenure up to 5 years. Considering this, the bench illustrated that despite this power given to the legislature, nothing can be done in the current case as a specific mandamus was given by the Supreme Court. The SC bench added, “We have held though the legislature is competent to take away basis of judgment, it cannot annul the mandamus. In Common cause judgment, there was a specific mandamus, and it was directed that there should be no further extensions. Thus, extensions given after verdict was invalid in law.” While giving the judgment, the SC said “We have held there is no manifest arbitrariness. The legislature can legislate. The extension can be granted when it is about the high-level officials such as this in the public interest and with reasons in writing.”
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