HC junks plea challenging Asthana’s pick as Delhi CP

| | New Delhi
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HC junks plea challenging Asthana’s pick as Delhi CP

Wednesday, 13 October 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

In a relief to Delhi Police Commissioner RK Asthana, the Delhi High Court ruled on Tuesday that there was no irregularity, illegality or infirmity in the appointment of the Gujarat-cadre IPS officer as the Delhi Police head.

The court dismissed a PIL challenging his selection and observed that the landmark Prakash Singh judgment on the appointment of DGPs is not applicable to Union Territories like Delhi. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said that the procedure adopted for appointment of the 1984-batch IPS officer was being followed for “nearly over a decade”.

The court said some “free movement of joints” has to be given to authorities in such matters in view of the unique requirements of the national Capital.

“As many as 8 erstwhile Police Commissioners in Delhi, have been appointed by the Central Government since 2006 prior to the appointment of Respondent No.2 (Asthana), following the same procedure as has been followed for appointment of Respondent No.2 herein. There has never been any objection to the said appointments...Either by UPSC or any other party,” the court stated in its 77-page judgment. 

Asthana, serving as the Director-General of Border Security Force, was appointed the Commissioner on July 27, four days before his superannuation on July 31.

Petitioner-lawyer Sadre Alam sought quashing of the July 27 order of the Ministry of Home Affairs appointing Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner while granting him inter-cadre deputation and extension of service by one year.

Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan who first approached Supreme Court on the matter accused Alam of copy-pasting his petition. The judgment said that this was an “unhealthy” practice. In the last week of August, Supreme Court said it will hear on the matter after the High Court’s judgment asking the petitioner Bhushan’s NGO CPIL to implead in the High Court.

“Before we part with the judgment, we may add a note of caution to the Petitioner... Counsel for the petitioner had disputed and denied the allegation and asserted that the pleadings in the petition are his own creation. We do not wish to precipitate the issue any further but are constrained to observe that such a practice is certainly unhealthy and deserves to be deprecated and the petitioner shall be well advised to refrain from indulging in such an exercise, in the future,” the bench said.

The court further clarified that the Supreme Court’s decision in Prakash Singh case, which mandated a minimum tenure for certain police officials and the constitution of a UPSC panel before selection, was not applicable to the appointment of Police Commissioner for Delhi but were “intended to apply only to the appointment of a State DGP”.

“It ought to be kept in mind that Delhi, being the Capital of India, has a unique, special, and specific requirement. It has witnessed several untoward incidents and extremely challenging law and order situations/riots/ crimes, which have an international implication, which in the wisdom of the Central Government necessitated the appointment of an experienced officer possessing diverse and multifarious experience of heading a large Para-Military Security Force apart from other factors.”As brought out in the counter affidavit by Respondent No. 1 (Centre), the impugned order was passed keeping in background the aforesaid factors,” the court said.

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