Exception to the rule: On extensions to heads of CBI, ED

Allowing yearly extensions to heads of CBI, ED will compromise their autonomy

As it is, the fixed tenure for certain posts means their superannuation within that period will not end their term. In effect, there is an implied extension for an officer appointed to one of these protected posts if the appointment comes within two years of retirement. A further extension that will take the officers’ services well beyond superannuation, that too one year at a time, will render the heads of two investigating agencies unacceptably beholden to the Government. Also, in Mr. Mishra’s case, the Supreme Court declined to interfere with the one-year addition to his original term of appointment, but also said that “extension of tenure granted to officers who have attained the age of superannuation should be done only in rare and exceptional cases”. And that the further extension should only be for “a short period”. It also made it clear that no further extension shall be granted to him. It is possible that the Government will abide by this order and not give the benefit of the amendment to Mr. Mishra, but it does not render the act of authorising year-on-year extensions to future appointees any less detrimental to the public interest. The protection given by a fixed tenure and the use of a high-ranking committee to recommend appointments and transfers were meant to dilute the ‘doctrine of pleasure’ implicit in civil service. However, it may be breached, if the extension allowed in exceptional circumstances becomes the rule.

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