HC grants time to Centre to file reply on plea challenging Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Delhi CP | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday granted time to the Centre to file reply to a petition challenging the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPC officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh allowed the plea by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for granting some more time to file the response and listed the matter for further hearing on September 16.
The high court, which had on September 1 issued notices to the Centre and Asthana on the petition, issued a fresh notice to the IPS officer as it was not served to him due to want of payment of process fee by the petitioner.
The bench was hearing the PIL by Sadre Alam, a lawyer, against the appointment of Asthana along with an intervention application by an NGO which has challenged the appointment before the Supreme Court.
Advocate B S Bagga, representing Alam, apologised for the delay and assured the court that the process fee would be deposited during the day.
During the brief hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO – Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), reiterated that Alam’s petition was mala fide and a “complete copy-paste” of his plea pending before the apex court.
He said the court should see whether this kind of mala fide petition should be entertained. Mehta said he was in agreement with Bhushan and this practice of copy-paste must be deprecated.
He commented however that if Bhushan makes plea public before filing it, nobody is to be blamed. To this, Bhushan replied that most of the information was in the public domain.
The petitioner has sought quashing of the July 27 order issued by the ministry of home affairs appointing Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner and also the order granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service to him.
The plea also sought initiation of steps for appointing Delhi Police Commissioner strictly in accordance with the direction issued by the Supreme Court earlier.
“The impugned orders (of MHA) are in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh case as respondent no.2 (Asthana) did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months; no UPSC panel was formed for appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner; and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has been ignored,” the plea said.
The Centre had earlier contended before the high court that “intermeddlers” cannot be allowed to challenge the appointment of Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, saying “This is not Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan.”
Mehta had sought time to respond to the petition on merit and said the court has to hear the “affected officer” as well before any order is passed.
Bhushan had earlier also raised the issue that Alam’s petition was copy-paste of his plea pending before the apex court.
He had clarified that he did not intend to argue before this court as the NGO’s plea was pending before the Supreme Court.
The petitioner’s counsel had maintained that the plea was not a product of “copy-paste”.
The petition claimed the high-powered committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition, in its meeting held on May 24, 2021, rejected the Central government’s attempt to appoint Asthana as the CBI Director on the basis of the six-month rule as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case.
The appointment of Asthana must be set aside on the same principle, it said.
The petition with similar prayers which has been filed by CPIL before the Supreme Court has urged to direct the central government to produce the July 27 order it issued, approving the inter-cadre deputation of Asthana from Gujarat cadre to AGMUT cadre.
The petition has also urged the apex court to set aside the Centre’s order to extend Asthana’s service period. On August 25, the Supreme Court had asked the high court to decide within two weeks the plea pending before it against the appointment of the senior IPS officer as Delhi Police Commissioner.

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