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Delhi High Court Seeks Centre's Response To Plea Challenging Appointment Of Rakesh Asthana As Delhi Police Commissioner

Akshita Saxena
1 Sep 2021 6:45 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Seeks Centres Response To Plea Challenging Appointment Of Rakesh Asthana As Delhi Police Commissioner
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The Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging appointment of IPS Officer Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner. The Court also allowed the intervention application filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation through Advocate Prashant Bhushan.A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has kept the matter for hearing on September 8....

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The Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Centre on a plea challenging appointment of IPS Officer Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner. The Court also allowed the intervention application filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation through Advocate Prashant Bhushan.

A Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has kept the matter for hearing on September 8. The Supreme Court on August 25 had asked the High Court to decide the issue within 2 weeks.

The petition has been filed by one Sadre Alam through Advocate BS Bagga, challenging the order dated July 27 issued by the Central Government granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service to Asthana. It emphasized that Asthana was appointed as Delhi Police Commissioner four days before he was due to retire on his superannuation on July 31.

CPIL, which had initially moved the Supreme Court challenging Asthana's appointment, has approached the High Court by way of an intervention application, claiming that the instant petition is an "ambush petition" which was a "copy-paste" from CPIL's petition.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Central Government urged the Court to inquire into the alleged issue of plagiarism. 

"It appears that Mr. Alam has copied Mr. Bhushan's petition, which is very dangerous path. This inter-meddling should be stopped. It's in his interest as well as the national interest. Mr. Bhushan's application must be admitted and Mr. Alam must be answerable to this Court," he said.

SG Mehta added that the Supreme Court in its order dated August 25 has said that it wants to have the benefit of the High Court's judgment. Thus, he stated that Bhushan's intervention should be allowed and notice may be issued in the matter to enable the Centre to file its reply.

Having said that, Mehta further argued that none of the parties, i.e. Alam or CPIL, have an interest in this petition. He alleged,

"A very systematic pattern is emerging. Every appointment be it judicial, administrative or executive is challenged. This Court needs to prevent professional PIL Petitioners like common cause etc...What business this Petitioner has?...Somebody who lost the race might be after it...These appointment of responsible officers are made by statutory authorities. This Court should order an investigation into what are the sources of this inspiration that whenever any appointment is made, with exact details everything gets readymade for some professional PIL litigants."

SG Mehta further stated that the primary contention in the case is whether a PIL is maintainable in service matters.

CPIL is aggrieved by the fact that Asthana was appointed as the Commissioner just four days before his retirement, thereby extending his service beyond the date of his superannuation. It also claims that the appointment order is in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by Apex Court in the Prakash Singh case (2006) 8 SCC 1 as:

  • Asthana did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months;
  • No UPSC panel was formed for the appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner; and
  • The criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years had been ignored.

Alam in his plea has stated that Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner four days before he was due to retire gives a complete go-by to the statutory rules. The plea states, "the requirement for exercise of power under Rule 3 of the Residuary Rules [for relaxing the Requirement of Rule 16(1) of the Rules, 1958] is not satisfied. The impugned orders dated 27.07.2021 are the reform, completely illegal and clearly smack of mala fide, and have presumably been issued only to promote the interests of the Respondent No.2 as well as of those in the Central government."

Case Title: Sadre Alam v. UoI & Ors.

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