By Sushil Kutty
Supreme Court Justice B R Gavai is busy, perhaps the busiest justice. Very recently he asked to be recused from Rahul Gandhi’s defamation/conviction case citing long-standing family links with the Congress. Now, he was part of the special bench that has given Director, Enforcement Directorate, Sanjay Kumar Mishra, further extension for the onerous task of saving India from international humiliation.
The Supreme Court ruled that Mishra would remain ED director till September 15. Earlier, the top court had asked Mishra to quit stalling and clear his desk by July 31, no more extensions! The volte-face came four days later. Sanjay Kumar Mishra can now continue as “ED Director”.
Did the Modi government feign Sanjay Kumar Mishra was indispensable because FATF was on India’s head and there’s no ED officer competent enough to stand in for the irreplaceable “Mr. Mishra”? Bunkum! People die. Lightning might strike. You could get hit crossing the road. But life goes on. Time never stops. God forbid, Sanjay Kumar Mishra could have gone with the wind and nobody would have missed him except family.
Point is, the Supreme Court should not have fallen for the Modi government’s sob story. The Modi government pulled a fast one. The Modi government would not have gone running to the apex court if Mishra was, god forbid, no more. His replacement would have been named within 24 hours. It’s all political. Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s presence in the Enforcement Directorate is important for the Modi regime’s 2024 plans.
Not because he’s supposedly the only Indian alive who can take on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) like Solicitor General Tushar Mehta makes it out. He told as much to the SC though not in as many words. Appointing a new ED Director doesn’t require shifting goalposts. Like Justice Gavai observed, “Are you not giving a picture here that your entire department is full of incompetent people except for this one person… Is it not demoralising for the entire force that except for this one person, the entire department will collapse?”
That is intelligent observation, but why accede to the government’s request? Without imputing motives, the SC bench should have put its foot down. FATF or no FATF, Sanjay Kumar Mishra is not greater than a nut or bolt. Even cogs come with a replacement. Ask the Chinese, they made away with their Foreign Minister and no questions asked! China, of course, is all about cut and dried. India isn’t. But that is no excuse for giving extension after extension.
By now even Mishra must be thinking of himself as a bathroom fixture; like a Jacuzzi or a toilet seat! The Supreme Court extended Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s tenure saying it is in “public and national interest”. This, after telling Mishra point blank to be out of the ED building by July 31. Four days short of the deadline, Mishra is all smiles and “Mr. Indispensable”.
The Modi Government ambushed the Supreme Court with an “urgent application” that said with FATF hovering over the head, India cannot be left in the lurch. And that Mishra’s presence is a national emergency! Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be happy. Mishra will not be going anywhere. And Modi will be “saved”.
The Enforcement Directorate has the teeth of a K9. Bottom-line, the Modi government used the ED for purely political purposes. Come to think of it, all the excuses, including the one about the country’s international image, are straight out of “Believe it or Not”. In simple King’s English, this particular ED Director is intrinsic to “Modi’s grand “Third Term” plan. He cannot be kicked out.
The Supreme Court “entertained” the request only because of the extraordinary circumstances. Mishra’s continuation as ED Director is “illegal”. The apex court should not have got distracted by sob stories. The top court had the power to stop “this person”. Tushar Mehta’s statement “continuity in office would help the country and decide the country’s ability, help in international credit ratings; financial arrangements with the World Bank…” is alright but the whole thing about “a new ED Director would take at least six months to look through and understand the files” is straight out of a hat!(IPA Service)