There was a “pressing need” to have someone like Rakesh Asthana at the head of the Delhi Police Force, given the “extremely difficult situations” in the nation’s capital on public order, maintenance issues. of order and their implications for national security, the Union government told the Supreme Court while justifying the appointment of the IPS officer of the 1984 batch as Delhi police commissioner.
In an affidavit in response to a series of petitions challenging Asthana’s appointment on July 27, the Center asserted that he was chosen “to provide effective policing of the recent public order situation in the territory of the National Capital of Delhi ”and that it took into account both the inter-cadre delegation and the extension of the service“ in the public interest ”.
She requested that the motions challenging the appointment be dismissed. Both his transfer and his extension of service have been challenged in court.
“It was felt that the required experience of working and supervising the central investigative agency / paramilitary force and the police force of a large state with various political and public order issues was lacking in the current pool of available officers and therefore in the public interest, a decision was taken by the central government to have an officer who had experience in all of the above areas to oversee the police force Delhi, ”said the affidavit, filed through the Home Office.
He added that besides having enough reasons to choose Asthana, there is no procedural or legal infirmity in naming him since the 2016 Supreme Court order in the Prakash Singh case, demanding that a state police chief has at least six months of service. on the left, only applies to the Director General of Police or Heads of Police State, but not to Union territories such as Delhi.
“Eight police commissioners have been appointed by the central government in Delhi since 2006, prior to the appointment of Asthana following the same procedure (…) there was never any objection to the appointment of the respective commissioners in Delhi police, ”said the affidavit, accusing the petitioner. , NGO Center for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for “selective public interest exposure”.
Asthana took office as Delhi Police Commissioner on July 28, 2021. Her one-year appointment came just four days before her retirement on July 31. Prior to his appointment, the Indian police officer was granted an inter-cadre deputation to a cadre comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories other than Andaman and Nicobar, and an extension of service.
CPIL, in its August 2021 motion in brief to the highest court, alleged several illegalities in the inter-cadre deputation and extension of service, and claimed that the appointment violated the condition stipulated in the Prakash Singh case because Asthana did not have a minimum remaining tenure. six months.
CPIL’s other petition to the Supreme Court in November 2021 is an appeal against the Delhi High Court judgment of October 12 affirming Asthana’s appointment.
A bench of Judges Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, who on November 26 issued opinions to the Center and Asthana on the NGO’s petitions, will hear the case on Wednesday. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the Center, while Asthana was represented by Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan pleaded for CPIL.
The affidavit filed by the Center called for the dismissal of the petition, noting that the Delhi Police Commissioner position is sui generis (unique) as Delhi is the capital of the country and any incident that occurs here has impacts and implications. large-scale not only across the country but across borders.
In May 2021, India’s Chief Justice NV Ramana, while on the high-level committee for the selection of the director of the CBI (the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to the Lok Sabha were the other members), reported the Prakash 2006 Singh case ruling, resulting in Asthana’s disqualification for the post of director of the CBI. The Center claims, however, that this decision is not applicable to the appointment of the Delhi Police Commissioner.
“Any legal provision or any other regime deserves to be read in such a way that latitude is given to the central government in the appointment of the Delhi police commissioner. Any straitjacket or pedantic approach would not be in the national interest, ”the Home Office said in the affidavit, defending Asthana’s appointment.
Regarding the challenge of the Asthana Interstate cadre delegation, the affidavit asserted that the rules provided for an inter-cadre delegation of all Indian service officers by the central government, which carried out the delegation in the public interest afterwards. that no other officer available under AGMUT was deemed appropriate to handle the law and order situation in Delhi.
“Considering the complexities and sensitivities involved and also considering that no officer of appropriate seniority with balanced experience was available within the AGMUT framework, it was felt that an officer belonging to a senior government executive , who had been exposed to the complexities of governance and who knew the nuances of large-scale policing is entrusted to the Delhi Police Commissioner, ”he added.
The Center further called for the rejection of CPIL’s petition, describing the NGO as a “busy person”. “The petitioner continues to selectively file petitions and such a selection of selected public interests … is beyond comprehension …”, the affidavit added.