Writ Petition Summary (Centre for Public Interest Litigation)Rakesh Asthana’s Appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner
On July 27th 2021 the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), led by the Prime Minister, issued an order granting Mr. Rakesh Asthana an inter-cadre deputation to the ‘Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram other Union Territories’ cadre (AGMUT cadre) of the Indian Police Services (IPS), and appointed him as the Delhi Police Commissioner.
In the same Order, 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. The order was issued 4 days before Mr. Asthana turned 60.
Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) filed a writ petition arguing that the appointment contradicts the SC’s decisions on eligibility, procedure for appointment and tenure of police chiefs in Prakash Singh v Union of India 2006 and 2019.
What do the petitioners seek?
The petitioners sought the following reliefs:
- Quashing of ACC’s Order appointing Mr. Asthana as a Commissioner of Police, Delhi.
- Direction to the Union Government to initiate fresh steps to appoint the Commissioner of Police for Delhi NCT in accordance with Prakash Singh.
- Setting aside the Order approving inter-cadre deputation of Mr. Asthana from the Gujarat Cadre to the AGMUT Cadre.
The Respondent Does Not Qualify for the Extension of Service
Fundamental Rules govern Government Servants under Articles 372 and 309 of the Constitution of India, 1950. Rule 56(d) stipulates that no Government Servant shall be granted an extension in service beyond 60 years. It further lists categories of Government Servants whose service may be extended in public interest. The petitioners argued that a police officer such as Mr. Asthana does not qualify for the exceptions listed in Fundamental Rule 56(d).
Further, the petitioners argued that the extension granted under the AIS rules All India Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958 does not apply to Mr. Asthana. Section 16(1) allows a maximum extension of three months for a member of the Service dealing with budget or full-time committee work, which is due to be wound up within a short period of time. A member who is Chief Secretary to a State Government or to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir may also receive such an extension, for a maximum period of six months. The petitioners argued that Mr. Asthana does not come under any of the criteria mentioned in the provision, and is therefore not entitled to an extension of service.
Violation of the Department of Personnel Training Policy
In a November 8th 2004 Office Memorandum, the Department of Personnel Training (DoPT) stipulated that inter-cadre deputation is available to officers who have between 9 and 17-20 years (Super Time Scale) in service. The petitioner highlighted that Mr. Asthana had already reached Super Time Scale in Gujarat, making him ineligible for inter-cadre deputation. Mr. Asthana’s deputation from Gujarat Cadre to the AGMUT Cadre is therefore not valid.
Violation of the Directions Issued in Prakash Singh v Union of India
In 2006 the Supreme Court held that the Director General of Police (DGP) should be selected from a panel of three senior-most officers of the police department based on seniority and work record. They also must have a minimum tenure of two years left.
In 2019, the Court held that the State Governments must anticipate vacancies to the Union Public Service Commission at least three months in advance, with proposed members for appointment as per the 2006 judgment. A minimum of six month tenure should be left.
The petitioners argue that the post of a Commissioner of Police in Delhi is akin to a DGP, as a Delhi Commissioner is the Head of Police. Directions on the appointment of a DGP therefore applies to the Commissioner of Police as well. In light of that, the petitioner noted that Mr. Asthana was not empanelled by the Union Government, nor was there two years or six months left in his tenure.