Courts Update Supreme Court directs Delhi High Court to deal with...

Supreme Court directs Delhi High Court to deal with a plea against Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Delhi Police chief within 2 weeks

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New Delhi Aug 25(ILNS): The Supreme Court has directed the Delhi High Court to dispose within two weeks the plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner just four days before his scheduled retirement.

The bench comprised of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, and comprising Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant was hearing by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) today. “We request the Delhi High Court to consider the matter as early as possible in 2 weeks for us to have the benefit of the High Court’s judgment. Petitioner is at liberty to file intervention application,” the bench said in its order.

Chief Justice Ramana also expressed his reservations in hearing the matter as he had objected to Asthana’s appointment as the head of the CBI while participating in the High Powered Committee.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested the bench to grant a period of 4 weeks for the Delhi High Court to dispose of the matter but the bench did not allow his prayer saying that time is of essence in this matter.

Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for CPIL, submitted that the petition filed before the Delhi High Court is the “copy-paste” of his petition. He submitted that these are the ways of delaying the issue and named this trend of filing petitions “ambush petitions”.

The CPIL petition in the Supreme Court, filed through Prashant Bhushan, contends that the order appointing Asthana is in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Prakash Singh’s case as Asthana did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months. In addition, no Union Public Service Commission panel was formed for the appointment of the Delhi Police Commissioner; and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has also been ignored.

It says the post of Commissioner of Police in Delhi is akin to the post of DGP of a State and as the head of NCT’s police force, the directions concerning the appointment to the post of DGP passed by the top court in the Prakash Singh case had to be followed by the Central Government while making the impugned appointment. However, this has been given a complete go-by the Central Government as is clear from the following:

  1. Asthana has not been empanelled by the Union Public Service Commission, as directed in Prakash Singh. This is so because he did not belong in the AGMUT cadre. He was deputed to AGMUT from the Gujarat cadre vide the same order as his appointment to the post of Police Commissioner, Delhi.
  2. He did not have a residual tenure of six months of service at the time of his appointment as Commissioner of Police since he was to retire within four days.
  3. He has been appointed for a period of one year till his date of superannuation even though Prakash Singh provides for a minimum two years tenure irrespective of the date of superannuation.

In Prakash Singh’s case, the top court had held that recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the UPSC and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months i.e. officers who have at least six months of service prior to retirement./ILNS/AV/SNG

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