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

Delhi High Court adjourns hearing on plea challenging Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Police Commissioner of Delhi

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New Delhi Aug 31(ILNS): The Delhi High Court today adjourned its hearing till tomorrow in a plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS Officer Rakesh Asthana as the Police Commissioner of Delhi. 

The development came after the Division Bench comprised of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was informed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan that an intervention application has been preferred by the NGO “Centre for Public Interest Litigation”, but the same is not on record.

He further alleged that the petition before the Delhi High Court is a ‘total copy-paste of the petition filed by the NGO before the Apex Court. “This is an abuse of process,” he said. 

Advocate B.S. Bagga, representing the petitioner in this matter, raised an objection to the allegation. He submitted that such allegations should not be made and that they both are on the same ground. 

In light of the submission made by Mr. Bhushan, the Bench directed that the petition will be taken up along with the intervention application and slated the matter for hearing on September 1, 2021.

The Apex Court, on August 25, 2021, had requested the Delhi High Court to decide the petition filed before it on the same issue within two weeks, while considering a plea challenging the appointment of Mr. Asthana filed by the CPIL. 

Filed by one Sadre Alam, a practicing Advocate, the plea prayed for quashing of the order dated July 27, 2021, 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. 

Furthermore, the plea sought a 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 added.

The plea further averred that such appointment is in violation of directions issued by the Apex Court in the case of “Prakash Singh v. 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.

It prayed, “The impugned 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.”/ILNS/BG/KR/SNG

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