A petition challenging the nomination of IPS Officer Rakesh Asthana as Commissioner of Delhi Police was dismissed by the Delhi High Court today. Sadre Alam’s petition was dismissed by a division bench consisting of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh.
The CPIL had previously filed a petition with the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court directed the NGO to file a plea in the Delhi High Court, where Sadre Alam’s appeal was already pending. On August 25, the Supreme Court also asked the Delhi High Court to rule on the matter within two weeks. The High Court bench, which had reserved its decision until September 27, issued its decision this morning, dismissing the petition.
Background Rakesh Asthana, the current Delhi Police Commissioner, is a Gujarat cadre IPS officer from the 1984 batch who was appointed in July 2021.
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order appointing him as Delhi Police Commissioner four days before his retirement, prolonging his service for an initial duration of one year beyond his superannuation date of July 31, 2021.
Asthana’s appointment was contested on several grounds, including the fact that it was made just four days before his retirement, in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Prakash Singh & Others v. Union of India case, which stated that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) should, as far as possible, consider only those officers for such appointments who have two years of service remaining.
It was also suggested that not appointing the Delhi Police Commissioner from the AGMUT cadre would have a negative impact on the cadre, delivering the message that its members are incapable. The Centre, on the other side, maintained that Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner was made in the public interest because the national capital has been experiencing law and order and police challenges with national security and cross-border consequences.
It also stated that the Central Government felt compelled to appoint a person as the head of the Delhi police force who possessed diverse and extensive experience in leading a large police force, as well as political and public order experience in working with and supervising Central Investigating Agency(s) and paramilitary forces.
In response to claims that Asthana’s appointment may demoralise the AGMUT Cadre, the Centre stated that Asthana was appointed as the Delhi Police Chief following a “thorough investigation.” It added that because Delhi lacks a full-fledged cadre, it is not practicable to have a panel of three officers nominated by UPSC from which the Centre can choose the best suited applicant, as requested by the Petitioner.
In terms of complying with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Prakash Singh case, the Centre maintained that the case’s final operative orders only applied to states for the appointment of DGPs, not to the Union Territories.
“The Judges must be enlightened by the lawyer but you have simply copied without understanding. You should bring your independent submissions. “The debutant should be stopped at the outset, so that he does not repeat such actions in future.