Why Rakesh Asthana: Centre’s 288-Page Justification Of Delhi Top Cop Pick


Rakesh Asthana was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner in July.

New Delhi:

From arguing that assignment rules are separate for states and union territories to suggesting there were no candidates in the capital’s conventional police cadre suitable for the role, the central government has explained why it picked Rakesh Asthana, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer from the Gujarat cadre, to be Delhi Police Commissioner, in a 288-page document.

Responding to a legal challenge that had deemed the controversial, politically-connected officer’s appointment illegal and an affront to laid-down conventions, the centre told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that the decision was taken keeping in mind “the diverse law and order challenges faced by the national capital, which have national security implications as well as international and cross-border implications”.

“Delhi being the capital of the country has been witnessing diverse and extremely challenging situations of public order/law and order situation/policing issues which not only had national security implications but also international/cross border implications,” it said in an affidavit.

“As such, a compelling need was felt by the Centre to appoint a person as a head of the police force of Delhi, who had diverse and vast experience of heading a large police force in a large State having diverse political as well as public order problem/experience of working and supervising Central Investigating Agency(s) as well as para-military forces,” it said.

“A search was done in AGMUT (Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories) cadre, which is the IPS cadre for GNCT (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi). However, since AGMUT cadre being a cadre comprising of Union Territory and small north-eastern states, it was felt that requisite experience of working and supervising the central investigating agency/para-military force and police force of a large State having diverse political and law and order problem was lacking in the present pool of available officers in AGMUT,” the centre said.

“Hence in public interest, a decision was made by the Central Government to have an officer who had experience in all the above fields to supervise Delhi Police force and to provide effective policing on the recent law and order situation which arose in the National Capital Territory of Delhi,” it said.

“Rakesh Asthana was appointed in accordance with and after scrupulously following all the applicable rules and regulations,” the centre said.

Seeking the dismissal of the pleas challenging the appointment of Mr Asthana as the police chief, the centre has argued: “it is also well settled that a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) is not maintainable in a service matter”.

On the allegation that Mr Asthana was appointed as the Delhi Police Commissioner in violation of Supreme Court’s judgment in Prakash Singh case on appointments of the head of police forces, the centre has argued: “the said judgment is only applicable for the appointment to the post of “DGP of a State” / chief of the police administration of the entire State. The said judgment has no application for appointment of Commissioners/Police Heads of Union Territories falling under the AGMUT cadre.”

Arguing union territories cannot be placed on the same pedestal as of state, the centre said that in Chandigarh, an IG (Inspector General) level officer is heading the police force, in Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, a DIG (Deputy Inspector General) level officer is heading the police force compared to DGP (Director General of Police) level officers heading a police force in states.

On the legality of inter-cadre deputation of Rakesh Asthana, the centre has defended it arguing “Central Government has been time and again granting inter-cadre deputation to officer who have attained pay level 14 and above by following the procedure. Since 2014, there have been four such inter-cadre deputations cleared by the Centre excluding Asthana’s”

Defending its move to grant extension in tenure to Mr Asthana for one year just days ahead of his retirement, the centre has argued, “The competent authority is duly entitled to grant extension to members of All India Services which include IAS and IPS officers.”

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