‘Filing PILs has become career in itself’

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Monday said that filing of public interest litigations (PILs) has become an “industry and a career in itself”, while defending the Centre’s decision to appoint Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner.

The Solicitor General, representing the Centre, argued that Mr. Asthana was appointed as Delhi Police chief after following the due procedure, as applicable to the national Capital.

Mr. Mehta said there was a plethora of Supreme Court judgments, which state that a PIL is not maintainable in service matters.

The Solicitor General argued, “If an officer or officers feel that they were better suited for the post, nothing prevented them from espousing their own causes”.

‘Fulfil one’s desires’

“Some citizens of this country have a desire to run the administration. Not being capable of facing democratic election, and running the government, they fulfil their desire by filing such PILs asking questions such as why this appointment is made, why this decision is taken, how this policy is made,” Mr. Mehta said.

During the hearing, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing Mr. Asthana, said the petitioner was “a proxy for somebody who does not want to come in the front” and holds “personal vendetta”. “People are always aggrieved if some peer or someone in the same service is selected. But here there is no [such] challenge. They are people who are educated, at the pinnacle of their career,” Mr. Rohatgi said.

A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh after hearing arguments from all the parties reserved its judgment on the plea challenging Mr. Asthana’s appointment.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, said the Centre’s stand that it found no eligible officers in the Union Territory cadre for appointment as Delhi Commissioner was “astounding” and had a “demoralising effect”.

Advocate B.S. Bagga, appearing for another petitioner Sadre Alam, also contended that Mr. Asthana’s appointment was in the teeth of the settled service law.

Earlier, defending the appointment of Mr. Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, the Centre had, in an affidavit, said that it 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 had 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 Paramilitary force from the options available in AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Mizoram Union Territories) cadre.

However, AGMUT cadre being a cadre comprising Union Territory and small north-eastern States, it was felt that requisite experience of working and supervising the central investigating agency/paramilitary 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, the Centre said.

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

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 6:11:03 AM |

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