Supreme Court to hear plea against Rakesh Asthana’s appointment next week

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The petitioner – Centre for Public Interest Litigation – represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the court that a judgment on the same issue was delivered by the Delhi high court on October 12 upholding the appointment of Asthana.

The Supreme Court will hear next week a petition challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Commissioner of Delhi Police. On July 27, the 1984-batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner for a one year term with just four days remaining for his superannuation.

A petition pending on this issue was taken up for hearing on Thursday before a bench of Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and AS Bopanna.

The petitioner – Centre for Public Interest Litigation – represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the court that a judgment on the same issue was delivered by the Delhi high court on October 12 upholding the appointment of Asthana. He requested that the CPIL petition was deferred by the top court on August 25 awaiting a decision by the high court. Bhushan requested the Court to consider his petition in the light of the October 12 order.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre objected to this suggestion and told the bench that once the high court had passed its decision, the CPIL petition will not be maintainable. Only an appeal against the high court order can be heard, Mehta added.

He was supported by counsel for Asthana, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi who informed the Court that the appeal alone was sufficient to be heard and not the petition.

The bench said, “We will not direct the petitioner to file an appeal. But to obviate technicality, would the petitioner not be well advised to also file an appeal against the HC judgment, so that in the final hearing this should not come in the way.”

Bhushan agreed to file the appeal and said that this will only delay the hearing. The bench allowed the appeal to be filed by Monday and ordered the petition to come up for hearing with the fresh appeal on Friday.

The petition questioned Asthana’s appointment on the ground that no panel of names was formed by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as held by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case. Also, a clear direction to ensure a secured, two-year tenure for the DGP stood violated with the one-year appointment of Asthana.

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