Delhi Police officers divided on Asthana’s appointment as chief

Delhi Police officers are divided on their opinion about the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Police Commissioner.

Mr. Asthana, a 1984-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer, assumed office on Wednesday — a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order and just four days before his retirement.

A senior IPS officer termed it a good move, saying Mr. Asthana will have “clarity” on actions. “S.N. Shrivastava was the acting Commissioner in his entire tenure, but for one month. Balaji Srivastava was the interim chief till the new Commissioner was found. In Mr. Asthana, we have an officer who has been made the chief for the next one year — in a clearly written order. Unlike his predecessors, he will feel more confident in taking decisions because he doesn’t need to ensure that his position is safe.”

The officer added that there is “nothing unconstitutional” in the appointment of Mr. Asthana as due procedure has been followed. “The appointment of the chief of police, especially in Delhi, is a political move and the Home Minister has the right to choose in his power. One cannot question Mr. Asthana’s seniority as he is senior to both the former Commissioners. There is no pending investigation against him...,” he said.

Another senior IPS officer said since Mr. Asthana has been a trusted officer of the Home Minister and the Prime Minister for years, “there will be clarity in decision making”. “In Delhi, a lot of things happen in the national interest. For instance, riots broke out and investigations took place around the ‘toolkit’. As Mr. Asthana has a direct line with the top bosses, he will know what decision has to be taken and when. Because there will be no panic at his level… it will not percolate down the ranks,” he said.

The officer added that Mr. Asthana’s — before his fallout with former CBI director Alok Verma wherein both levelled corruption charges against each other — was “brilliant” and known for his integrity.

However, another senior IPS officer had a different opinion on the appointment and believed that it reflects badly on the AGMUT cadre. “Everyone knows he is a political appointee. A question arises on whether officers in the AGMUT cadre weren’t good enough that a Gujarat cadre officer had to be brought in. Has the leadership in AGMUT cadre failed,” he asked, adding that the appointment of Mr. Asthana may be challenged in court by someone wondering if the due course was followed.

“The reason of his appointment has been given to be in public interest citing pandemic and farmer’s agitation. However, a pandemic is not a law and order issue and farmers have been sitting for eight months now,” he added.

An Inspector-rank officer said he only hopes that Mr. Asthana’s arrival would lead to transparency and merit-based appointment of Station House Officers unlike “others” who used “different means” of selection.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 7:36:18 AM |

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