On July 11, just a fortnight back, the Supreme Court allowed Enforcement Directorate director S K Mishra to continue to hold the office till July 31 this year, notwithstanding holding that the extension given to Mishra was illegal as it violates the court’s 2021 order. This, had aroused apprehension in the legal and political circle that Modi government would resort every possible trickery to keep Mishra as the office and frustrate SC’s direction.
An illegal action should have been struck down at that point of time. But SC allowed Mishra to continue as the ED Director till July 31, 2023, in the backdrop of Modi government’s concerns regarding a smooth transfer of power and the peer review of the intergovernmental organisation – Financial Action Task Force (FATF). This was merely a façade of Modi and his government. The government bought time to work on new strategy
In a shrewd manner the Modi government is trying to project FATF as the most important instrument. But this is a completely misleading move. The ED is not a constitutional or statutory body. It is one of the departments of the finance ministry. Any person who takes the office of director can accomplish this task. Since the officer would be from the rank of central services he can easily offer his expertise the FATF review.
The lenient and good gesture of the Supreme Court had no effect on the saffron eco system. On Wednesday, Modi government came back to the apex court with the request to give Mishra extension till October 15 this year, instead of feeling ashamed at its misdemeanour to trample and subvert the legal process and practices. What a criminal joke; it has once again tried to hide behind the same argument, since the review of the FATF is at the critical stage where submissions on effectiveness have been made only on 21.07.2023 and on-site visit is scheduled to be conducted in November, 2023.
Since the task is at the critical juncture, it is essential that Mishra who is well-acquainted with the overall status of money laundering investigations and proceedings should be allowed to continue. Modi officials are desperately trying to convince the Supreme Court that any change of the captain would impair the ability of the agency.
It is indeed a cunning attempt by Modi and his men to force Supreme Court bite dust. The Supreme Court’s second judgement in Jaya Thakur had specifically ruled out an extension to S.K. Mishra. The court has had to repeat itself twice, to rule that no further extensions can be given. A third extension will simply undermine the authority of the court and the efficacy of its mandamus. By entertaining the request of Modi government and agreeing to hear it, the apex court might have succeeded in acquiring the image of liberal and considerate judiciary, but it has turned the people sceptical of the future of Indian democracy and electoral system. A future ruler would adopt the same mechanism to deny the people of their basic rights.
Earlier apex court in its 103 page verdict had observed;”It is certainly not the sweet-will of the Government that the extensions can be granted to the incumbents in the office of the Director of CBI/Director of Enforcement. It is only on the basis of the recommendations of the Committees which are constituted to recommend their appointment and that too when it is found in public interest and when the reasons are recorded in writing, such an extension can be granted by the Government.”
One question that is making the round in political circle is: Why is Modi hell-bent on yet another term for S.K. Mishra? With many of the prominent opposition leaders under investigation, Mishra’s help is very much essential for the ruling party before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
ED is rearing to move ahead and implicate some prominent opposition leaders before his tenure formally ends in November. Since Mishra has prepared foolproof cases against these leaders, he would be the right person to handle the follow up. If the sources are to be relied the process of action against a few INDIA leaders will start soon.
Mishra is handling cases of front rank leaders of INDIA. . In the changed political situation Modi and his RSS mentor Mohan Bhagwat hold the view that fight against corruption would figure prominently. This has acquired more importance for the reason that INDIA and Rahul Gandhi have been planning to launch big campaign exposing the ruling government’s policies and its failures. PM wants to combat it launching more investigations against the opposition leaders in the name of fighting corruption.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body set up to combat money laundering and terror financing. Around 200 countries, including India, have committed to implementing FATF standards, the government said in its plea. Incidentally the charges of money laundering have been framed many of the INDIA leaders under the, well deigned plan to implicate them and send them to jails.
The liberal and democratic forces are apprehensive that this time too, the government may succeed in its endeavour to convince the court of the need to allow Mishra to continue. Already the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had succeeded in convincing the court about his importance. He had submitted,” This officer is not some DGP of any State but an officer representing the country in a United Nation-like body (that is FATF) and is in the midst of something. This court must not interfere with his tenure, and from November onwards, he will not be there.”(IPA Service)