- Rakesh Asthana was appointed Delhi top cop 3 days before retirement
- Congress, AAP protested Mr Asthana’s appointment
- Delhi assembly passed a resolution seeking a reversal of his appointment
The Supreme Court will hear a petition challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner. A two-member bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant is expected to hear this matter on Thursday.
The petition has been filed by a lawyer – ML Sharma – who has challenged the appointment as being in violation of a 2018 Supreme Court order that said the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) should, as far as practical, consider only officials with two years of service left.
Mr Sharma has also asked the top court to initiate contempt proceedings against Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Home Ministry officials on this matter.
Ex-CBI officer Rakesh Asthana was last week appointed Delhi Police Commissioner despite being just three days from retirement. An order by the Union Home Ministry – to whom Delhi Police reports – said Mr Asthana had been given a year’s extension in service granted “in public interest”.
Mr Asthana was also given a deputation – from the Gujarat cadre to the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territory) cadre from which Delhi Police chiefs are usually picked.
Two months ago he was believed eliminated from the list of candidates because he was about to retire. A panel headed by the Prime Minister was reportedly reminded of a Supreme Court decision that officers with six months left in service should not be considered for police chief posts.
Earlier Mr Asthana was also ruled out of the post of CBI Director for the same reason – that he was about to retire – making his appointment as Delhi top cop all the more controversial.
The Congress and Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have protested the centre’s move.
“I think the appointment of Rakesh Asthana is against the order of the Supreme Court. It is the duty of the centre to obey the Supreme Court…” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, pointing out that the same reasons that ruled Mr Asthana out as the next CBI chief applied in this case.
The Congress, which has also pointed out Mr Asthana’s appointment is in “direct contravention” of a Supreme Court judgment, called it “downright illegal” and hinted at a “quid pro quo”.
“Not only is it an issue of inter-cadre appointment; the issue expands to another instance of blatant disregard towards the Supreme Court,” senior leader Pawan Khera said, “… it is downright illegal.”
Mr Khera also questioned Mr Asthana’s credentials, asking: “What credentials of managing the metro policing does Rakesh Asthana possess?” and what “public Interest” was being fulfilled.
Mr Asthana took charge on Saturday, arriving at Delhi Police HQ to a guard of honour and telling reporters: “I believe in the basic concepts – maintenance of law and order, and prevention of crime… “
With input from PTI