Rakesh Asthana made Delhi Police chief in ‘public interest’, Centre tells HC

The appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana was contested for being illegal on multiple grounds

Updated - September 16, 2021 06:29 pm IST

Published - September 16, 2021 05:42 pm IST - New Delhi

Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana. File

Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana. File

The Central government has informed the Delhi High Court that the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner was done in “public interest”, taking into account the Capital’s policing issues, which not only had national security, but also cross-border implications.

The Centre, in an affidavit filed before the court, said best attempts were made to find a suitable Indian Police Service (IPS) officer having diverse experience of policing in a vast State or Central investigating agency or national security or para-military force from the options available in AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Mizoram Union Territories) cadre.

However, AGMUT cadre being one comprising Union Territory and small northeastern States, it was felt that requisite experience of working and supervising the Central investigating agency/para-military force and police force of a large State having diverse political and law and order problem was lacking in the present pool of available officers, it noted.

“Hence in public interest, a decision was made by the Central Government to have an officer who had experience in all the above fields to supervise Delhi Police force,” it stated.

Superannuation on July 31

Mr. Asthana took charge as the Commissioner on July 28. His appointment came just days before his superannuation on July 31. He will have a tenure of one year.

This is one of the very few instances when an IPS officer outside of the AGMUT cadre has been appointed as Delhi police chief.

His appointment has been contested by one Sadre Alam, who argued that the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) in appointing Mr. Asthana for the post was “completely illegal on multiple grounds”.

Mr. Alam contended that the appointment was “in clear and blatant breach” of the directions of the Supreme Court as Mr. Asthana “did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months”, and that no Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) panel was formed for appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner.

NGO’s plea

Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) too has moved a similar plea before the court against Mr. Asthana’s appointment. The NGO is, however, embroiled in a separate issue against Mr. Alam who, it claimed, has copied the contents of its petition.

The Central government, responding to both the pleas, observed that there was no “procedural irregularity or any fundamental illegality” in appointing Mr. Asthana for the post. “Both inter-cadre deputation as well as extension of service of Respondent No.2 (Mr Asthana) was granted by the Central Government in public interest,” it added.

It also questioned the purpose, motive and bona fide of Mr. Alam and the NGO in opposing Mr. Asthana’s appointment since they never considered challenging the appointment of eight erstwhile police commissioners though they were appointed in the same manner as done in this case.

The court will hear the case on September 20.

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