The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea filed by advocate Sadre Alam challenging Rakesh Asthana's appointment as the Commissioner of Delhi Police. The high court had reserved its verdict on Alam's plea after hearing arguments in detail. Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer from the Gujarat Cadre was appointed as Delhi Police Commissioner on July 27, four days before his retirement.
Alam's plea was one of the two challenging Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police top cop. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, through organisation Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), had also challenged Asthana's appointment before the Supreme Court. The high court's verdict comes more than a month after the stipulated deadline imposed by the Supreme Court which on August 25 had directed the high court to decide the issue within two weeks.
The case in the high court was overshadowed by allegations made by advocate Prashant Bhushan who alleged that Alam had copy-pasted his plea which is pending before the top court.
Bhushan, who had intervened in the matter before the high court, had argued that Asthana did not meet the service rules and guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in its 2006 Prakash Singh judgment. Bhushan said Asthana, who was appointed four days before his retirement, did not meet the minimum residual tenure of six months; a three-member UPSC panel which recommends candidates for the post of the Delhi Police Commissioner was not formed; criteria for a minimum tenure of two years was ignored (Asthana has been appointed for one year only); and that Asthana surpassed the super-time scale for inter-cadre deputation.
The Centre had argued that there was a compelling need to appoint Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner because Delhi, the nation's capital, has been experiencing challenging law and order situations that have had international implications.
In a veiled reference to the communal riots that broke out in February 2020 in North East Delhi that left 58 dead and hundreds injured, the Centre's September 15 reply in the high court said, "This necessitated the appointment of an experienced officer having diverse, multifarious experience of heading a Police Force in any large State/Central Investigation Agency/Para-military Security Forces etc to head the Delhi Police Force".
Asthana, who was also seeking the dismissal of the plea challenging his appointment alleged that the PIL was proxy litigation where the petitioners had personal agendas under the cloak of public interest.