In yet another PIL, the appointment of the 1984-batch IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner was challenged by a Delhi based Lawyer before the Delhi High Court. The petitioner has sought to set aside the appointment order issued on July 27 by the Home Ministry and adherence to the 'six-month' rule as per direction of the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, the plea was heard by a Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh and notice was issued seeking replies from the Central Government and the senior cop, while posing the matter for further hearing on September 8.
Earlier, Centre For Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) had filed a petition challenging appointment of Asthana in the Union Territory before the Supreme Court, which has asked the Delhi High Court to decide the issue, on August 25.
Asthana was appointed to the post on July 27, three days before his retirement on July 31. The appointment was made after clearance by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which also extended his term for one year.
The petition filed by Sadre Alam, a Delhi-based Advocate, was opposed by the 'Centre for Public Interest Litigation', an NGO. Appearing for the NGO, which has challenged the appointment before the Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan stated that Alam's petition was malafide and a "complete copy paste" of the plea pending before the Apex Court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, opposed the PIL and sought time to respond to it on merit. He said, "The petition before the High Court seemed to have been copied from the one before the Supreme Court."
The Centre told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that intermeddlers cannot be allowed to challenge the appointment of Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner.
"This is not Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan", submitted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before a bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel.
"The impugned orders (of MHA) are in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh case as Respondent No.2 (Asthana) did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months; no UPSC panel was formed for appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner; and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has been ignored," the plea stated.
It claimed, "The High-Powered Committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition, in its meeting held on May 24, 2021, rejected the Central government's attempt to appoint Asthana as the CBI Director on the basis of the six-month rule as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case. The appointment of Asthana to the post of Commissioner of Police, Delhi must be set aside on the same principle."
The petition with similar prayers which has been filed by CPIL before the Supreme Court has urged to direct the Central Government to produce the July 27 order it issued, approving the inter-cadre deputation of Asthana from Gujarat cadre to AGMUT cadre. The petition has prayed for setting aside the Centre's order to extend Asthana's service period.
With inputs from PTI