The Central Government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court why IPS officer Rakesh Asthana was finally made the Delhi Police Commissioner. The government considers his appointment to be an “essential necessity”. The Center said that the responsibility was given to him keeping in mind the extremely challenging conditions of public order, policing issues in the national capital and their impact on national security.
The Union Home Ministry, justifying the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, informed the apex court through an affidavit that he had been appointed as Delhi Police Chief as a special matter of public interest.
The affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court on a plea by NGO CPIL against the Delhi High Court order upholding the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the police chief.
The NGO ‘Center for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL) through its advocate Prashant Bhushan had approached the apex court against the Delhi High Court’s order dated October 12, 2021. The High Court had upheld the Centre’s decision to appoint Rakesh Asthana, a 1984 Gujarat cadre officer.

Commissioner was made four days before retirement:
Let us tell you that on July 31, four days before his retirement, he was given a new responsibility as the Delhi Police Commissioner. The High Court in its decision upheld the appointment. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Center has said that he was chosen to provide effective policing on the recent law and order situation that arose in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Center sought to dismiss the petition.
The Center alleged the petitioner of personal vendetta against Asthana also referred to the appointment of eight commissioners of Delhi Police by the same process without any complaint. The affidavit said, “Delhi is the capital of the country. It has a specific and special requirement. Some unpleasant and extremely challenging public order problems, riots, crimes have an international implication. For this reason one appoint a special experienced officer. The Center also sought dismissal of the petitions challenging the appointment.

Asthana has also filed an affidavit.
Asthana has also filed separate affidavits in the petition. He has said that the petitions in the apex court were filed after an acrimonious social media campaign to malign his reputation. He alleged that the petitioner NGO and Prashant Bhushan have personal vendetta against him.

Meanwhile, a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud adjourned the matter to the third week of January for hearing.

Delhi Police had justified the appointment.
The Delhi High Court, while dismissing a PIL challenging Asthana’s selection, had held that the justification and reasons given by the Center for the appointment of Asthana were laudable. The court called for not interfering in judicial review.
Asthana, serving as the Director General of the Border Security Force, was appointed as the Commissioner of Delhi Police on July 27, 2021, after being transferred from the Gujarat cadre to the Union Territory cadre for a tenure of one year. The NGO’s plea has urged the apex court to set aside the Centre’s order to appoint Asthana after his extension of service.

EW Corresponent/Delhi