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Enforcement Directorate (ED)


 Syllabus: Statutory bodies/ Money Laundering


Source: IE

 Context: The question of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief’s tenure is back in the Supreme Court of India.


Explaining the issues:

The tenure for directors of CBI and ED is two years. However, in November 2021, the President promulgated two ordinances allowing the Centre to extend the tenures from two years to up to five years. So, now they can be given three annual extensions. The Supreme Court had previously upheld this and allowed the extension of ED’s chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra, but said that such extension should be done in rare and exceptional cases and for a short period.

Now, the government has again extended the tenure of Mr Mishra citing a pending review by the Financial Action Task Force and that Mishra would not remain in service after his term comes to an end in November. This has been challenged in SC again.


Issues with ED and PMLA:

Misuse of PMLA for ordinary crimesPMLA is used to investigate crimes not related to money laundering or organized crime, leading to the attachment of assets of genuine victims.
Lack of transparency and clarityThe Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) is not given to the accused and the ED lacks clarity in selecting cases to investigate.
Blanket powers The ED has been assigned almost blanket powers under PMLA for searching, seizing, investigating, and attaching assets considered to be proceeds of crime.
Low conviction rateBetween 2005 and 2013-14, there were zero convictions, and between 2014-15 and 2021-22, only 23 cases were under conviction out of 888 cases registered.
Allegation of Political biases“Political figures who have crossed over to the government side have mysteriously been given ‘clean chits’ or have seen ED go slow in proceedings against them”


Way forward:

While the ED has been given expansive powers under PMLA, there must be a balance between these powers and adherence to constitutional provisions to prevent political misuse. The process of investigation should not become a punishment, and there should be a commitment to expeditiously resolve cases for speedy trials and convictions.

Constant scrutiny over the operations of the Enforcement Directorate is necessary, and any lacunas in the operative part can be filled through suitable legislation, executive action, or a revised order of the apex court.


Insta Links:



Mains Links:

The erosion of institutional autonomy and freedom in the decision-making of organisations like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has weakened Indian polity and democracy. Critically analyse. (250 Words)

Discuss how emerging technologies and globalisation contribute to money laundering. Elaborate measures to tackle the problem of money laundering both at national and international levels. ( UPSC 2021)