Centre extends tenure of home, defence, IB, RAW chiefs up to five years; Opposition cries foul
The ordinances assume significance as the extended tenure of incumbent ED chief S K Mishra ends on Wednesday
New Delhi: The Centre on Monday amended Fundamental Rules (FR) to facilitate extended tenure and in-service benefits to CBI and ED directors.
It comes a day after it effected two ordinances that empowered it to extend tenures of CBI and ED chiefs up to five years from existing two years, drawing criticism by Opposition parties with the Trinamool Congress terming it as "elected autocracy".
The FR is a set of guiding principles applicable to all government servants and covers the entire gamut of their in-service and post-retirement working scenarios.
It bars extension in service to any government servants beyond the age of retirement of sixty years except a few including Cabinet Secretary, those dealing with budget-related work, eminent scientists, Cabinet Secretary, IB and RAW chiefs besides the CBI director among others with certain conditions.
The rules now allow the central government to give extension in the public interest to the defence secretary, home secretary, director of Intelligence Bureau (IB), secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and directors of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a case-to-case basis, subject to the condition that the total term of such secretaries or directors, "does not exceed two years or the period provided in the respective Act or rules made thereunder", according to a Personnel Ministry's notification.
Monday's notification has excluded foreign secretary from the ambit of FR and included the ED chief, apparently allowing the incumbent to continue getting the service benefits of the extended tenure.
The post of foreign secretary was included in the FR following a proposal cleared by the Union Cabinet in December 2010 "in view of the assignment of Foreign Secretary having increasingly acquired critical dimensions from the national security and strategic perspective, and the need to ensure continuity and swiftness in the decision making process".
The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 promulgated on Sunday said the tenure of Director CBI can be extended up to one year at a time provided "that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment".
According to the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, that also came into effect on Sunday, the tenure of ED chief can be be extended up to one year at a time: "Provided further that no such extension shall be granted after the completion of a period of five years in total including the period mentioned in the initial appointment," it said. The Directors of CBI and ED usually have two years tenure.
The ordinances assume significance as the extended tenure of incumbent ED chief S K Mishra ends on Wednesday. He was given a one-year extension in 2020 after the completion of his two years term.
The Congress on Sunday had questioned the need for extending the tenures of CBI and ED Directors. "By hanging the allurement of yearly extensions before people who would occupy these sensitive offices NDA/BJP Govt wants to subvert whatever little is left of institutional integrity of these two Org's Message is clear Hound the opposition and get extensions," party spokesperson Manish Tewari had said on Twitter.
The TMC on Monday moved a notice for statutory resolutions in the Rajya Sabha objecting to the ordinances by the government to extend the tenure of the CBI and the ED chiefs.
"Two brazen Ordinances extend ED and CBI Director terms from 2 (signs of two Parrots) to 5 years (followed by signs of five parrots) #Parliament Winter Session begins two weeks from now. Be rest assured, Opposition parties will do all it takes to stop India from turning into an elected autocracy," Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien tweeted.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the "desperate hurry smacks of something fishy".
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