NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court ruled on Tuesday that there was no irregularity, illegality or infirmity in the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS Officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner and dismissed a PIL challenging his selection.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said that the procedure adopted for appointment of the 1984-batch IPS officer was being followed for ‘nearly over a decade’ and some ‘free movement of joints’ has to be given to authorities.
“‘We do not find any irregularity, illegality or infirmity in the action of Respondent No.1[Centre] in appointing Respondent No. 2 [Asthana], following the procedure followed for nearly over a decade,” said the court.
“As many as eight erstwhile Police Commissioners in Delhi, have been appointed by the Central government since 2006 prior to the appointment of Asthana, following the same procedure. There has never been any objection to the said appointments by any party,” the court stated.
Asthana, serving as the Director-General of Border Security Force, was appointed the Commissioner on July 27, four days before his superannuation on July 31.
Petitioner-lawyer Sadre Alam sought quashing of the July 27 order of the Ministry of Home Affairs that appointed Asthana as the DPC, while granting him inter-cadre deputation and extension of service by one year.
The Centre said that there were no suitable candidates for the post, and submitted that the PIL, and intervention of NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation which challenged the appointment before the SC, ‘deserves to be dismissed with exemplary costs’.
Asthana told the court that there was a sustained social media campaign against him and the legal challenge to his appointment was an abuse of process of law.
Tug of war
Chronology of events challenging the appointment of IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner
Jul 27, 2021
Ministry of Home Affairs appoints Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner
NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ moves apex court challenging the appointment
Lawyer Sadre Alam files PIL in Delhi HC challenging the appointment
Delhi High Court bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel hears the plea, refuses to issue notice
SC hears NGO’s plea, asks HC to decide the PIL pending before it preferably within two weeks.
HC issues notice on PIL, seeks response from the Centre and Asthana.
High court reserves verdict on Alam’s petition against the appointment
HC dismisses the PIL
SC directions not for UT: HC
The Delhi High Court brushed aside the argument that the appointment of IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner was in breach of the apex court’s guidelines saying that the SC’s directions are only applicable on states and not on union territories, including the national capital.
The petitioner challenged Asthana’s appointment on the ground that it was in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case as the 1984-batch IPS officer did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months.
No UPSC panel was formed for appointment of DCP and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has been ignored, it said.
“The judgement and the directions therein, have no application for appointment of Police Heads of UT falling under the AGMUT cadre,” the bench said.