The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre and Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana on a plea challenging his appointment, just three days before his retirement. A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said: “Issue notice”.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, sought an early date in the hearing of the matter. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, represented the Centre, and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, represented Asthana, before the bench.
The NGO filed a special leave petition challenging the Delhi High Court ruling, stating that there was no irregularity in Asthana’s appointment as the Delhi Police Commissioner. After a brief hearing, the top court gave two weeks to parties to file counter affidavits in the matter.
On October 12, the bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said: “In view of the aforesaid conspectus of judgements, expounding the principle of contemporanea expositio, we do not find any irregularity, illegality or infirmity in the action of Respondent No 1 (Centre) in appointing Respondent No 2 (Asthana), following the procedure followed for nearly over a decade.”
The high court also ruled that the Centre has power, jurisdiction and authority to make inter-cadre deputation of officers in public interest and the Supreme Court’s judgements in Prakash Singh case on appointment of police heads would not apply to the union territories. The court junked the petition against Asthana’s appointment as the Commissioner of Delhi Police on July 27, just before his superannuation on July 31.
“We see no reason to interfere in the decision of granting inter-cadre deputation to Respondent No 2,” it noted, in its 77-page judgment.
The high court had said that petitioners — advocate Sadre Alam and NGO CPIL led by advocate Bhushan — have not been able to make out a case calling for the interference or even remotely demonstrate that there is any blot in the service career of Asthana, which makes him unsuitable for the post.