HC Dismisses Pleas Challenging Rakesh Asthana's Appointment as Delhi Police Head
Asthana was appointed as commissioner on 27 July, just four days before his previously scheduled date of retirement.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday, 12 October, dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh
dismissed a PIL filed by advocate Sadre Alam, along with an intervention application by Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
The original petition had been filed in the Delhi High Court by Alam. Meanwhile, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had filed a plea before them in the Supreme Court, which they claimed was copied verbatim by Alam. They were allowed to have their petition taken up in the high court along with Alam's.
Rakesh Asthana was appointed as commissioner on 27 July, just four days before his previously scheduled date of retirement, 31 July 2021. The newly appointed Delhi Police Commissioner had been serving as the Director General (DG) of the Border Security Force (BSF) since August last year.
The Delhi High Court's judgment has not yet been made available, so it is unclear at this time what the court's reasons were for rejecting the pleas. This story will be updated with further details when it is made available.
WHAT DID THE CPIL PLEA SAY?
The petition filed by the CPIL in the court asserted that the order of appointment is in 'clear and blatant breach' of the directions issued by the apex court in a July 2018 case – Prakash Singh and others versus Union of India – which had stated that officers who have at least two years of service left should be considered for such positions, Live Law reported.
The plea further observed that Asthana did not have a stipulated minimal residual tenure of six months and that no UPSC panel was instated for his appointment.
WHAT DID THE CENTRE SAY?
The Delhi Assembly on 29 July had passed a resolution disputing Asthana's selection as the national capital's Police Commissioner, urging the Ministry of Home Affairs to reverse the appointment.
The Centre, in an affidavit filed through lawyer Amit Mahajan, said that Asthana’s appointment has been done in accordance with and after scrupulously following all the applicable rules and regulations, which is why no fault can be found in his appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner.
The Centre reasoned that it felt a "compelling need" to “appoint a person as a head of the police force of Delhi, who had diverse and vast experience of heading a large police force in a large state having diverse political as well as public order problem/experience of working and supervising Central Investigating Agency(s) as well as para-military forces”, PTI reported.
Defending Asthana's appointment, the Centre stated that he has been brought in to provide “effective policing” on recent law and order situations in Delhi, which have "national security and cross border implications".
WHAT DID ASTHANA SAY?
Asthana, in his affidavit, specified a sustained social media campaign against him and stated that the legal challenge to his appointment was an abuse of process of law.
He also said that his appointment as special director, Central Bureau of Investigation, has led to proceedings being consistently filed against him by certain organisations as part of a “selective campaign”.
(With inputs from LiveLaw and PTI.)
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