Centre defends Asthana appointment as Delhi Police Chief in HC

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New Delhi [India], September 16 (ANI): Justifying the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, the Centre told the Delhi High Court that he was given charge because he had the exposure of complexities of governance and knowledge of nuances of broad canvas policing.

In an affidavit filed before the High Court, the central government said that no officer of the appropriate seniority with balanced experience was available in the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.

The government submitted that the petition which challenged Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner is an "abuse of process of law and outcome of personal vendetta".

"It was felt that an officer belonging to a large state cadre, who had the exposure of complexities of governance and who had the knowledge of nuances of broad canvas policing is given charge of Commissioner of Police Delhi," the Centre stated in its affidavit filed through advocate Amit Mahajan, who is standing counsel of the Government of India.

"Keeping the public interest objective in mind, the service tenure of Asthana was extended in the exercise of the powers vested in the cadre controlling authority," it said, adding that in absence of there being a lack of power, the exercise of said power cannot be faulted when the same has been exercised after complying with all the due process.

Henceforth, the Centre urged Delhi High Court to dismiss the petition as well as the Interlocutory Application challenging Rakesh Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner with exemplary costs.

The affidavit states Delhi, being the capital of the country, has a specific and special requirement that witnessed certain untoward and extremely challenging public order problems/riots/crimes which have an international implication.

"This necessitated the appointment of an experienced officer having diverse, multifarious experience of heading a Police Force in any large State/Central Investigating Agency/Para-military Security Forces etc to head the Delhi Police force. Since the experience in all these domains was felt necessary by the Competent Authority to be present in an office for the purpose of heading Delhi Police and also taking into cognizance the incident which had happened in the past, the Competent Authority considered it just and necessary and in the public interest to have an officer having experience and knowledge of heading the Police Force of a vast State/Central investigating agency and paramilitary /Police Force so as to effectively negotiate and handle the peculiar policing needs, the law and order situation in the National Capital of GNCT of Delhi," read the affidavit.

"It was only when it was found after a thorough examination of available options that the experience of handling the police force in a vast State mixed with the experience of handling other investigating agencies/para-military forces was not available, the Competent Authority, in public interest decided to propose and grant inter-cadre deputation to Respondent No.2 (Asthana)," it said.

The Centre highlighted that the said deputation, being in the public interest and being done after following all the requirements of the extant policy, does not suffer from any illegality and thus the prayer of the petitioner challenging Ashthana's appointment on instant ground deserves to be dismissed as being "misconceived".

"The aforesaid being the purpose and rationale for the appointment of respondent no 2 to the post of CP Delhi Police, no fault can be found in his appointment which has been done in accordance with and after scrupulously following all the applicable rules and regulations. It is submitted that as explained hereinafter no case of procedural irregularity or any fundamental illegality has been made out by the petitioner in the instant writ petition, and therefore, in the respectful submission of the deponent the same is liable to be dismissed with cost," the affidavit said.

The Centre submitted that the case of AGMUT Cadre in particular and Delhi Commissionerate, in particular, is a sui generis case so far as the appointment of Commissioner of Police/head of

the police force is concerned.

"Delhi being the Capital of our country has its own characteristic factors which do not exist in any other commissioner. Apart from being the capital of the country, any incident happening here has far-reaching impacts and implications not only throughout the country but beyond the borders. In view thereof, it is respectfully submitted that any statutory provision or any

other regime deserves to be read in such a way that leeway is given to the Central Government in the appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner. Any straightjacket or paediatric approach would not be in the national interest," read the affidavit.

The Centre, in its affidavit, also mentioned that the present petition is a verbatim reproduction of a petition filed by the intervener before the Supreme Court of India and said that this is a gross abuse of the process of law and cannot be lightly brushed aside as plagiarism.

"The fact that a petition is a copy-paste of another petition undisputedly shows that the present petitioner has not applied his mind and the Affidavit which hides the real source of information is manifestly wrong. However, though the deponent prays for dismissal of the captioned petition with exemplary costs and the strictures it deserves, the benefit of this fact cannot go to the intervener," the government said.

The High Court was hearing a petition filed by Sadre Alam seeking direction for quashing the order issued by the central government appointing Rakesh Asthana, IPS as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi and for quashing the order dated July 27, 2021, of the ACC granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan had also filed an intervention application in the matter. (ANI)

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