The Union government extended the tenure of the secretaries of the ministry of home and ministry of defence as well as for the director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for two years. According to the gazette notification issued by the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pension on 15 November 2021, the tenure of these officials can be extended up to five years. However, many citizens, including a petitioner behind reforms in selecting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, have objected to increasing the tenure to five years for these posts.
According to the gazette notification, “The chiefs of the central agencies currently have a fixed two-year tenure, but the government can now give three annual extensions from case-to-case basis.”
“Provided also that the central government may, if it considers necessary in the public interest to do so, give extension in service to the defence secretary, home secretary, director of IB, secretary of RAW and director of CBI appointed under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (25 of 1946) and director of enforcement appointed under the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (45 of 2003) in the central government for such period or periods as it may deem proper on a case-to-case basis for reasons to be recorded in writing, subject to the condition that the total term of such secretaries or directors, as the case may be, who are given such extension in service under this rule, does not exceed two years or the period provided in the respective Act or rules made thereunder, under which their appointments are made,” the notification says.
On Sunday, the Union government issued a notification to extend the tenure of the directors of CBI and enforcement directorate (ED) up to five years.
On 27 May 2021, the Union government had extended the tenure by one year of IB chief Arvind Kumar and RAW secretary Samant Kumar Goel. Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla was also given an extension of one year on 12 August 2021.
Vineet Narain, the petitioner in the landmark 1997 Supreme Court (SC) judgement which granted ‘independence’ to the CBI and fixed a two-year term for its director, has requested the SC to intervene and do a course correction.
Speaking to The Indian Express
, Mr Narain, says, “Now the Supreme Court should take cognizance of this order and evaluate its merit in the light of its own previous judgment of 1997. The Supreme Court should intervene and decide how the spirit of autonomy should be maintained in the CBI as well as the ED.”
“Ideally, the government should have taken both prior steps: debated the matter in Parliament and allowed the Supreme Court to revisit the matter too,” he says. Mr Narain told the newspaper while he had no problem with a fixed five-year tenure for the heads of the two investigating agencies, the extended tenures should be given to them as a one-time appointment.
Earlier in 2011, AP Singh, former director of CBI, had recommended a fixed tenure of five years for the post of director of CBI. However, a Parliamentary committee rejected his recommendation.
Speaking with the newspaper, Mr Singh says, “The director of (US) federal bureau of investigation (FBI) has a tenure of 10-year. Even though the ordinance does not provide for a fixed five-year term, I welcome it. At least the director will have an opportunity to pursue cases longer and take them to a logical conclusion. All extensions will have to be approved by the prime minister (PM)-led committee where the Cchief Jjustice of India (CJI) and the leader of the opposition (LoP) will also have an opinion.”