Rakesh Asthana case: Delhi HC issues notice, fixes September 8 as next hearing of hearing

On August 25, SC had ordered Delhi HC to decide within two weeks the plea before it to quash Centre’s decision to appoint Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner

Rakesh Asthana case: Delhi HC issues notice, fixes September 8 as next hearing of hearing

NH Web Desk

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice in the petition challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Commissioner of Delhi Police.

The Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh will hear the matter next on September 8, Bar & Bench reported.

Appearing on behalf of intervening applicant Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), advocate Prashant Bhushan reiterated that the petitioner has directly copy pasted from CPIL's plea before the Supreme Court. This, he said, was in complete violation of Delhi High Court Rules.

When the Court asked counsel for the petitioner whether he had copied from Bhushan's plea, the latter denied the same.

"It is too much of a coincidence that even typographical errors are the same," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.

SG Mehta, appearing for the Central government, went on to criticize "professional PIL petitioners" who approach courts to challenge such appointments. He said, "Petitioner seems to be following Bhushan's path, which is a dangerous one. Both are inter meddlers......They have no business to challenge this appointment. Let us prevent another professional PIL petitioner to come before the Court and do this. What are the sources of this inspiration to challenge appointments?"

He also questioned the propriety of filing PILs to challenge what are essentially service matters.

The Court went on to allow the intervention application and issue notice in the matter. However, Bhushan said, "My petition is pending before Supreme Court. I do not wish to argue here. This petition must be dismissed with exemplary costs. It violates all rules of the Court."

On Tuesday, Bhushan had argued that the present petition was a "direct copy paste" of the petition on the same issue he is arguing before the Supreme Court.

The plea filed by CPIL before the Supreme Court challenged an order passed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs granting Asthana deputation, extension of service and appointing him as Commissioner of Delhi Police just four days before he was slated to retire.

It was contended that the order under challenge was blatantly violative of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India since Asthana did not have the required minimum residual tenure of six months, no UPSC panel was formed for his appointment and the criteria of a minimum tenure of two years, as directed in the judgment, was ignored.

It was also highlighted that in a High-Powered Committee meeting held in May 2021 comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition and the Chief Justice of India, the Central government had attempted to appoint Asthana as the CBI Director. However, the proposal was reportedly rejected by the CJI NV Ramana citing the “six-month rule” laid down in Prakash Singh.

Subsequently, a petition was filed in the Delhi High Court by Sadre Alam, challenging Asthana's appointment on similar grounds.

On August 25, the apex court ordered the Delhi High Court to decide within two weeks the plea filed by Alam for quashing the Central government's decision to appoint Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner. National Herald had reported earlier that Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Delhi Police chief could well be quashed by the court as it was made in the teeth of SC’s directives in the Prakash Singh case.

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