Asthana’s appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner challenged in SC

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) challenging the appointment of Gujarat-cadre’s IPS Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner just four days before his scheduled retirement.

The petition filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan contends that the appointment order of Rakesh Asthana is in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Prakash Singh’s case as Asthana did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months.

In addition, no Union Public Service Commission(UPSC) panel was formed for the appointment of the Delhi Police Commissioner; and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has also been ignored.

It says the post of Commissioner of Police in Delhi is akin to the post of DGP of a State and as the head of NCT’s police force, the directions concerning the appointment to the post of DGP passed by the top court in the Prakash Singh case had to be followed by the Central Government while making the impugned appointment. However, this has been given a complete go-by the Central Government as is clear from the following:

  • Asthana has not been empaneled by the Union Public Service Commission, as directed in Prakash Singh. This is so because he did not belong in the AGMUT cadre. He was deputed to AGMUT from the Gujarat cadre vide the same order as his appointment to the post of Police Commissioner, Delhi.
  • He did not have a residual tenure of six months of service at the time of his appointment as Commissioner of Police since he was to retire within four days.
  • He has been appointed for a period of one year till his date of superannuation even though Prakash Singh provides for a minimum two years tenure irrespective of the date of superannuation.

In Prakash Singh’s case, the top court had held that recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the UPSC and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months i.e. officers who have at least six months of service prior to the retirement.