Govt tables Bills to extend tenures of ED, CBI chiefs, Opposition smells ‘malafide intentions’

During the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, the government Friday introduced two Bills in the Lok Sabha to extend the tenures of the chiefs of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) even as the Opposition objected and alleged that the amendments were “undemocratic” and done with “malafide intentions”.

Not paying heed to the objections, Union Minister Jitendra Singh introduced the Bills — Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill 2021 and The Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill 2021. He defended the amendments and said the government is just “streamlining” the process and fixing the term for five years, which according to him, was not specified in the earlier laws.

Opposing the Bills, K Suresh, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Shashi Tharoor and Gourav Gogoi from Congress, Saugata Roy of TMC and N K Premachandran from RSP put forward their observations in an attempt to block the government’s move in the introductory stage.

While Roy said, “ED and CBI have become the major arms of the government and the Prime Minister to harass the Opposition,” Tharoor pointed out that the Supreme Court has made it clear that the extension of the term of these officials should be done only in rare and exceptional cases. Terming the move unreasonable, Tharoor said the basic principle of a fair trial has been encroached upon with the changes.

Chowdhury said that objectives and reasons given in the Bills are “confusing, malafide and arbitrary”. He alleged that the amendments were “only to offer them (government) own officials who would dance to their tunes.”

Echoing Chowdhury, Premachandran said the statement is not in tune with the clauses of the Bills tabled. “What’s the reason for these Bills? It’s a legislation with malafide intentions to protect the interests of particular officers who are favourites of the government,” he said.

The Opposition MPs also questioned the need of issuing ordinances for the changes. “What’s the urgency?” most of them asked.

The minister said he would explain further details about the Bills during the debate on them. The house will take up the Bills for consideration and passage next week.

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