Rakesh Asthana’s Appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner
Centre for Public Interest Litigation v Union of India
The Supreme Court will decide whether to invalidate the Union government's appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner as it incorrectly and invalidly deputed Mr. Asthana to the AGMUT cadre and extended his term beyond retirement age.
Petitioner: Centre for Public Interest Litigation
Lawyers: Prashant Bhushan
Respondent: Union of India; Rakesh Asthana
Lawyers: Diksha Rai; Arvind Kumar Sharma
Does the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner and the decision to extend his tenure contradict the Court’s decision in Prakash Singh v Union of India (2006 and 2019)?
Does the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner and the decision to extend his tenure violate multiple service rules and statutes?
On July 27th 2021, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by the Prime Minister, appointed Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner (DPC). Mr. Asthana turned 60 on July 9th 2021 and was set to retire four days later, on July 31st 2021. However, the ACC relaxed Rule 16(1) of the All India Service (Death cum Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958 (AIS Rules), which requires service members to retire when they turn 60, to extend his tenure by one year as a special case in ‘public interest’.
In the same order, the ACC first approved the inter cadre deputation of Mr. Asthana from the Gujarat cadre of the IPS to the ‘Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram other Union Territories’ cadre (AGMUT cadre). The DPC is almost always appointed from the AGMUT cadre.
Earlier, in October 2018, the Supreme Court placed Mr. Asthana on immediate leave when he was the CBI Special Director. This was an unprecedented decision in response to petitions filed by ‘Common Cause’ and former CBI Director Alok Verma arguing that he should be removed from his role due to pending corruption charges against him.
The appointment of Mr. Asthana as DPC was challenged by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) on August 6th 2021. They argue that the appointment contradicts the SC’s decisions in Prakash Singh v Union of India 2006 and 2019.
In the 2006 judgment, the Court held that State Police Chiefs must be selected by the State Government after the Union Public Service Commission creates a panel of the three senior-most officers from the department. Once selected from the panel, the officer must have a minimum tenure of two years.
In the 2019 judgment, the Court held that the appointee must have a residual tenure of at-least six months before retirement. This was meant to curb any acts of ‘favouritism’ in appointments.
Finally, argues that the ACC’s order of inter-cadre deputation and appointment violates the AIS rules, the All India Services Act, 1951, the Memorandum on inter-cadre deputation issued by the Department of Personnel and Training and the Compilation of Fundamental Rules and Supplementary Rules, 1922.