Supreme Court Extends Enforcement Directorate Director’s Tenure Until September 15

The Supreme Court, citing “national interest,” has extended the tenure of the Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Sanjay Kumar Mishra, until September 15. However, the court clarified that no further applications seeking an extension will be entertained. The decision came in response to the Centre’s plea, urging the court to extend Mishra’s tenure until October 15, considering the ongoing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) review.

During the hearing, the court questioned the plea, stating that it portrayed the entire department as dependent on one individual. The court also remarked on the need to avoid demoralizing the entire force by making one person indispensable. In response, the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, asserted that no one is irreplaceable and emphasized that extending Mishra’s tenure until October 15 is essential to assist the FATF review effectively.

The Centre’s application highlighted the critical juncture of the FATF review, where the Directorate of Enforcement’s leadership is crucial for prompt and efficient cooperation with the assessment team. The FATF conducts peer reviews of its member countries to assess the implementation of its recommendations to combat money laundering and terror financing. India is currently being assessed in the fourth round of mutual evaluations, and its evaluation was postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assessors are expected to visit India in November 2023, requiring detailed meetings with various officials involved in money laundering investigations and prosecutions. The Centre stressed the need for leadership at a senior level to respond to the assessors’ queries effectively. Moreover, the intricacies of complex money laundering investigations would require a person with hands-on experience, making Mishra’s role significant from a national interest perspective.

Previously, on July 11, the Supreme Court had deemed the extension of Mishra’s tenure illegal, but the current decision allows him to continue serving until September 15, 2023.

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