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Two pleas, one target – Asthana’s appointment as Police Commissioner

| Updated: September 1, 2021 20:40

The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought the Union government and Rakesh Asthana’s stand on a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment of the Gujarat-cadre IPS officer as Delhi Police Commissioner.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice on a plea by one Sadre Alam and listed the matter for further hearing on September 8.

On August 6, a similar PIL was filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan’s NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), challenging Asthana’s appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner and the extension of his service by one year.

On August 31, Bhushan argued that Alam’s petition was malafide and a “direct copy-paste” of the same issue he’s arguing before the apex court. He also filed an intervention application in the matter.

According to Bar and Bench, the top court went on to allow the intervention application. “My petition is pending before Supreme Court. I do not wish to argue here. This petition must be dismissed with exemplary costs. It violates all rules of the Court,” he said.

When the court asked the counsel for the petitioner whether he had copied from Bhushan’s plea, the latter denied the same. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government opposed the PIL and sought time to respond to it on merit.

“It is too much of a coincidence that even typographical errors are the same,” Mehta said. He further went on to criticise “professional PIL petitioners” who approach courts to challenge such appointments.

Sadre Alam v. Union of India

In his petition before the high court, Alam has sought quashing of the July 27 order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) appointing Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner and also the order granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service to him.

The plea, filed through advocate BS Bagga also sought initiation of steps for appointing Delhi Police Commissioner strictly in accordance with the direction issued by the Supreme Court earlier.

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 the appointment of the Delhi Police Commissioner; and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years have been ignored, the plea said.

It claimed a high-powered committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, the 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, it said.

Also Read: Why was Rakesh Asthana rewarded the Police Commissioner’s post

The petition with similar prayers which have 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 also urged the apex court to set aside the Centre’s order to extend Asthana’s service period. On August 25, the Supreme Court had asked the high court to decide within two weeks the plea pending before it against the appointment of the senior IPS officer as Delhi Police Commissioner.

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