Incompetence Allegations Swirl as Court Extends Probe Agency Chief’s Term-Chief SK Mishra

Unusual Circumstances Lead to Extension

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate Chief SK Mishra finds himself at the center of a contentious debate as the Supreme Court grants him an extension until September 15, beyond the initial deadline of July 31. The court’s decision comes in response to the Centre’s appeal for further extension until October 15, citing “unusual circumstances” and emphasizing the need for continuity. However, this move comes after the court had previously deemed the second and third extensions “illegal.”

Centre’s Argument for Continuity

The Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, stressed the importance of Mr Mishra’s continued service in light of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review, which will be conducted soon. As the onsite review of India’s regulations and supervision approaches, neighboring countries’ desires to place India on the FATF’s ‘grey list’ raise concerns for the Centre. The FATF review encompasses various parameters, including combating money laundering, making it an ongoing process until 2024.

Bench Raises Questions-Chief SK Mishra

During the proceedings, Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath, and Sanjay Karol questioned the Centre’s position, asking if they believed all other officers were incompetent and whether one officer alone could handle the responsibility. The Centre responded by stating that while no officer is indispensable, continuity is essential for effective leadership within any organization.

Senior Advocate’s Perspective

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing the petitioners, emphasized the complexity of the FATF review, which involves 40 parameters, including money laundering. He raised concerns about seeking extensions until 2024, considering the ongoing nature of the review process. Furthermore, Singhvi criticized the Centre’s dependence on a single officer out of a population of 140 crore people, deeming it deplorable.

Repeated Citing of Peer Review

The Centre has repeatedly cited the peer review as justification for extending Mr. Mishra’s term. Initially appointed in November 2018, he was set to retire after two years, reaching the age of 60. However, in November 2020, he received his first extension, which was followed by two more.

Allegations of Misuse of Power

In May, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that Mr. Mishra would retire in November, suggesting that the petition challenging his extension was politically motivated. One of the petitioners, Senior Congress Leader Randeep Surjewala, accused the government of misusing central agencies to target opposition leaders and destabilize non-BJP-ruled states.

In conclusion, the extension of Enforcement Directorate Chief SK Mishra’s term has sparked heated debates about competence and the need for continuity. The Centre’s reliance on the FATF review as a justification for the extension raises concerns among critics, who argue that a more robust leadership approach is necessary. As the situation unfolds, the Court’s decision will undoubtedly influence the country’s law enforcement landscape in the months to come.

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