The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi High Court to dispose of pleas challenging Rakesh Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner within two weeks.
"We request the Delhi High Court to consider the matter as early as possible in two weeks for us to have the benefit of High Court's judgement," the bench said adjourning the matter for two weeks. The top court also allowed the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan to file a substantive plea on this matter before the high court.
Asthana, a 1984-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer took charge as Delhi Police Commissioner on July 27, four days before his retirement.
Bhushan told the Supreme Court that Asthana's appointment was an egregious and a brazen violation of every norm and law. Every guideline issued by the Supreme Court has been flouted, he added.
The plea in the Delhi High Court is nothing more than a "copy-paste" "ambush petition" done in collusion with the Centre, Bhushan argued.
"The less said the better," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said on "ambush petitions" and PILs filed in collusion.
During the hearing, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana also expressed his apprehension to hear the plea because he had objected to Asthana's appointment when he participated in the High Powered Committee to appoint the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The plea filed by CPIL had raised this point to buttress their grounds challenging Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner.
The matter will now be heard after two weeks.
In their plea, CPIL alleged that several rules and guidelines were flouted to appoint Asthana as Delhi's police commissioner. CPIL further alleged that the Home Ministry's appointment order is a clear and blatant breach of the directions passed in the Supreme Court's Prakash Singh verdict.
1) Asthana was appointed four days before his retirement, which violates the guideline which states that an appointee's retirement date must be at least six months away;
2) A UPSC panel was not formed to appoint the Delhi Police Commissioner;
3) Asthana has been appointed for one year, a clear violation of the criteria mandating a minimum tenure of two years
"The post of Commissioner of Police in Delhi is akin to the post of DGP of a State and he is the Head of Police Force for the NCT of Delhi and therefore, the directions concerning the appointment to the post of DGP passed by this Hon'ble Court in the Prakash Singh case (supra) had to be followed by the Central Government while making the impugned appointment," CPIL's plea read.
Advocate ML Sharma, known to file petitions on sensational issues has also filed a connected plea seeking initiation of contempt of court against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the Centre's decision to appoint Asthana in "public interest".