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HC rejects plea challenging Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Delhi police commissioner

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Tuesday rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi police commissioner. He was appointed to the top post by the home ministry through a July 27 order.

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The high court bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh pronounced the order on a petition filed before the court by lawyer Sadre Alam.

The petitioner had challenged Asthana’s appointment alleging, “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.”

Alam sought the quashing of the home ministry order appointing Asthana as the Delhi police commissioner. The plea cited a high level meeting between the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India held on May 24, 2021, which rejected the appointment of Asthana as CBI director due to procedural lapses. It had insisted that the same principle should be applied to his appointment as the city police commissioner.

Defending his appointment, the Centre said that it felt a “compelling need” to “appoint a person who had diverse and vast experience of heading a large police force in a large state having diverse political as well as public order problems/experience of working and supervising Central Investigating Agency as well as paramilitary forces”. Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, told the court in his affidavit that a social media campaign was being waged against him and the challenge to his appointment was an abuse of the process of law rising from vendetta.

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