In a highly controversial move, the government of India on Sunday brought two ordinances to extend the tenures of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate chiefs to up to five years.
The chiefs of the central agencies currently have a two-year tenure. Both the ordinances have been signed off by President Ram Nath Kovind. The chiefs of the top agencies can be given extensions every year for up to three years after they complete the two-year term. This move comes at a time when agencies like the CBI, the ED, etc, are being used by the present regime to harass opposition parties, the press, civil society leaders, etc.
Ever since the BJP came to power at the Centre, the independence of agencies like the CBI, the ED, etc, has come under the scanner. They have been behaving more like an extended arm of the ruling government. This has raised a serious question mark over the independence of these agencies. This latest move will further give more power to the government to control the functioning. The government will have the power to decide which director can get extension upto five years. This ordinance can be used to manipulate the persons occupying the directors’ posts. Also, it goes against the SC ruling. A Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice LN Rao, recently gave a judgment in the case linked to the extension of the Enforcement Directorate chief SK Mishra’s tenure, who took charge in 2018, underlining that the extension of tenure “should be done only in rare and exceptional cases.” The BJP government is playing dangerously by manipulating agencies like the ED, the CBI, the IT, etc. A day might come when these acts might come back to haunt them.