New Delhi Sept 8(ILNS): The Delhi High Court today deferred its hearing till September 16, 2021, on 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 comprising Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was informed that the notice issued upon Mr. Asthana on September 1, 2021, could not be served for want of process fee.
The Bench inquired Advocate B.S Bagga, representing the petitioner, as to why the processing fee has not been paid yet, even though the Apex Court has granted a time-bound schedule to decide the petition. Advocate Bagga assured the Bench that the processing fee would be paid by the end of the day.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, also sought time to file a response to the petition.
The Bench issued fresh notice upon Mr. Asthana, and granted time to the Centre to file a reply.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the intervenor NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, reiterated that the petition filed in the Delhi High Court by one Sadre Alam is a reproduction of the petition filed by the NGO before the Apex Court. He alleged the petition before the High Court to be ‘malafide’ and contended that the Court must consider whether such a petition which violates all the procedures of filing a Public Interest Legislation, could be heard at all. The Solicitor General supported the contentions made by Mr. Bhushan with regard to a petition by Mr. Alam being copied from the petition filed by the NGO and submitted that such petitions should not have been filed. But if Mr. Bhushan makes his petitions public before they are even heard, then he cannot complain, added Mr. Mehta.
The Bench, on the last date of hearing, allowed the intervention application filed by Mr. Bhushan, who has filed a petition on the same issue before the Apex Court and sought response from the Centre and Mr. Asthana on the same.
Filed by one Sadre Alam, a practicing Advocate, the plea prays for quashing of the order dated July 27, 2021, appointing Mr. Asthana as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi. The plea also prays 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 seeks 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 alleges that the order issued by the Government, appointing Mr. Asthana as the Police Commissioner of Delhi, is completely illegal and smacks of malafide.
On July 27, 2021, an order was passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which allowed for inter-cadre deputation of Mr. Asthana from Gujarat cadre to Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre as also extended his service tenure by a period of one year beyond the date of his superannuation, which was July 31, 2021. By the same order, he was also appointed as the Police Commissioner of Delhi.
The Apex Court, on August 25, 2021, had requested the Delhi High Court to decide the petition filed before it within two weeks so as to enable the Court to have the benefit of the judgment of the High Court, while considering a plea challenging the appointment of Mr. Asthana filed by the CPIL./ILNS/BG/KR/SNG