Courts Update Delhi High Court adjourns hearing on plea against Rakesh...

Delhi High Court adjourns hearing on plea against Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Delhi Police chief

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New Delhi Aug 18(ILNS): The Delhi High Court today adjourned a hearing on a plea challenging the appointment of IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the Police Commissioner of Delhi after the Centre’s Standing Counsel requested to seek instructions as to whether any petition on a similar issue is pending before any other court. 

The Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, was hearing public interest litigation filed by a practicing advocate Sadre Alam.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma raised a preliminary objection on the ground that the petitioner has no locus standi in the issue. He further contended that the apex court has held that PIL in a service matter is not maintainable.  

The matter is slated for hearing on August 24.

Filed through Advocate BS Bagga, the plea prayed for quashing of the July 27, 2021 order, appointing Mr. Asthana as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi. The plea also prayed for quashing of the order approving inter-cadre deputation and extension of service period beyond the date of superannuation of Mr. Asthana. 

Further, the plea sought direction to the Centre to make a fresh appointment to the post of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, strictly in accordance with the directions issued by the Apex Court in the Prakash Singh case.

The plea alleged that on July 27, 2021,  just four days before Mr. Asthana was due to retire on his superannuation, an order was passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, allowing his inter-cadre deputation from Gujarat cadre to Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre and extending his service tenure by a period of one year beyond the date of his superannuation, which was July 31, 2021. He was also appointed as the Police Commissioner of Delhi.

The plea averred that as per the Fundamental Rule 56(d) issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, no provision is stipulated for grant of extension to a police officer beyond his age of retirement of 60 years.

“Fundamental Rule 56(d) as well as Rule16(1) of the All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, make it amply clear that extension in service can be provided for only the specific categories of posts enlisted therein and more importantly, such extension would be granted only on the ground of ‘public interest’ to those officers who are already holding such posts,” the plea mentioned.

It further averred that such appointment is in violation of directions issued by the Apex Court in the case of “Prakash Singh vs Union of India” [(2006) 8 SCC 1,(2019) 4 SCC 1, and (2019) 4 SCC 13], stipulating the eligibility, procedure for appointment and tenure of police chiefs, insofar as Mr. Asthana did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months. Further, no UPSC panel was formed for the appointment of the Delhi Police Commissioner, and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years irrespective of the date of superannuation are also ignored.

“The order issued by the Central Government (Respondent No 1) is, therefore, completely illegal and clearly smacks of mala fide, having been issued apparently only to promote the interests of the Respondent No.2 (Mr. Asthana), as well as of those in the Central Government,” it added./ILNS/BG/KR/SNG

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