Controversies in Appointment of Rakesh Asthana – Supreme Court Directions

The Delhi High Court, on the 27th September, 2021, reserved its Judgement regarding the plea filed against the appointment of IPS Mr. Rakesh Asthana as the Commissioner of Police at Delhi.

One Sadre Alam has filed a plea against the said appointment in exclusion of the plea filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL). The CPIL has filed an intervention application alleging Sadre Alam of copy – pasting the grounds as stated by the CPIL in their plea. The Bench of Justices DN Patel and Jyoti Singh will also pass an Order regarding the intervention Application along with the reserved Judgement.

Mr. Rakesh Asthana has been appointed as the Commissioner of Police of Delhi on the 27th July, 2021.This appointment has been challenged in the Supreme Court and a Petition has been filed to Quash such appointment of Mr. Asthana.

Mr. Asthana is an officer of the 1984 Gujarat – Cadre as also a former BSF DG. He was supposed to retire in July 2021; however, the tenure of his service has been extended by a year. Mr. Asthana was appointed as the Commissioner of the Police in Delhi when he had 3 days of service left prior to his retirement. The order issued by the Union Home Ministry which declared the elevation of Mr. Asthana stated that he was so appointed on the benefit of Public Interest. Although his retirement was close, his immense knowledge, experience and skills were highly valuable and apt for the post of the CP of Delhi. Considering his capabilities to be highly useful for the welfare of the public, his tenure of service has been extended for one full year. In the light of such extension of service, he was appointed as the Commissioner of Police. He is now posted as the Commissioner of the Police in Delhi from July 2021 to July 2022.

However, learned gentlemen, NGOs and critics of every decision made by the Central Government, out of their habit of challenging every decision of the Centre, moved the Supreme Court in order to Challenge this appointment and demanded the appointment of Mr. Asthana to be Quashed. The basis of their petition was an earlier Supreme Court ruling where the Hon’ble CJI N V Ramana was a part of the Bench that held that the posts of the Chief of Police should be given only to officers with minimum 6 months’ time pending for their retirement. Even though the extension of tenure implies that Mr. Asthana has another full year of service pending, the so-called well-wishers were in a rush to waste the time of the Apex Court.

In a hearing held on the 27th August 2021, the Supreme Court directed the Petitioners to approach the High Court of Delhi and also stated that the Delhi High Court should consider the matter within 2 weeks’ time. “We request the Delhi High Court to consider the matter as early as possible in 2 weeks for us to have the benefit of High Court’s judgement. Petitioner is at liberty to file intervention application”, Stated in the Order passed by the Bench.

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