Delhi HC asks if any challenge to Rakesh Asthana's appointment as police chief pending anywhere

The petitioner's advocate BS Bagga argued that police commissioner Rakesh Asthana's appointment was in violation of the existing service law.

Published: 18th August 2021 04:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2021 04:20 PM   |  A+A-

Rakesh Asthana

Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana (File photo| Shekhar Yadav, EPS)


NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on  Wednesday refused to issue notice on a petition challenging the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner at this stage and asked if any other plea concerning his appointment is pending before any court.

"Is any such matter pending before any other court?" asked Chief Justice DN Patel while hearing a petition by one Sadre Alam against Asthana's appointment and extension of service by one year. Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said that to his knowledge, no such challenge was pending before any other court as of now.

Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan said, "The department was not aware of it." The bench which also comprised Justice Jyoti Singh asked the counsel to take instructions on the aspect and proceeded to adjourn the hearing. "Just take instructions. Find out and come on Monday," it said.

Advocate BS Bagga, representing Alam, urged the court to issue notice on the petition. The court, however, responded: "No, no. We are still going to read everything. We will see." ASG Sharma submitted that it had become a business for "so-called-integrity-keepers" to challenge any appointment made by the authorities.

He submitted that Alam had no locus to challenge Asthana's appointment. Bagga argued that Asthana's appointment was in violation of the existing service law. "Four days before retirement he was appointed to the post," Bagga stated as he claimed that the service conditions mandate a minimum residual tenure of six months.

The 1984-batch IPS officer, serving as the director general of Border Security Force, was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner on July 27, four days before his superannuation on July 31.

In his petition, Alam has sought quashing of the July 27 order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs appointing Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner and also the order granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service to him.

It also seeks initiation of steps for appointing Delhi Police Commissioner strictly in accordance with the direction issued by the Supreme Court earlier. "The impugned orders (of MHA) are in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh case as (i) respondent no.2 (Asthana) did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months; (ii) no UPSC panel was formed for appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner; and (iii) the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has been ignored," the plea said.

It claimed the High-Powered Committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition, in its meeting held on May 24, 2021, rejected the Central government's attempt to appoint Asthana as the CBI Director on the basis of the "six-month rule" as laid down by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh.

The appointment of Asthana to the post of Commissioner of Police, Delhi must be set aside on the same principle, it said.

A petition with similar prayers has already been filed before the Supreme Court by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation', urging to direct the central government to produce the July 27 order it issued, approving the inter-cadre deputation of Asthana from Gujarat cadre to AGMUT cadre.

The petition, moved by advocate Prashant Bhushan, has also urged the apex court to set aside the Centre's order to extend Asthana's service period.

A contempt plea in the apex court by advocate ML Sharma has been filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for appointing Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner in alleged violation of the judgement in Prakash Singh case.

In his petition, Sharma has said that according to the apex court's judgement of July 3, 2018, the process of appointment should begin three months prior to the vacancy and the person being appointed must have a reasonable period of service left.

Besides the contempt action, the plea has sought a declaration from the apex court that the appointment of Asthana be held illegal "being contrary to the judgment dated July 3, 2018". The matter would be heard next on August 24.


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