Decide plea against Asthana being made DP chief in two weeks, HC told (2nd Lead)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Delhi High Court to decide, within two weeks, the plea against the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner.

Hearing a petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation challenging Asthana’s appointment, a bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, said: “There are issues, one is about my participation in my matter as one ground. I have expressed my views about this gentleman in CBI selection.”

The Chief Justice, while participating in the High-Powered Committee, had objected to the appointment of Asthana as the head of the CBI.

He said that the second issue is that somebody had filed a plea against Asthana’s appointment, which is pending in the high court.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, submitted: “I don’t think that disables your lordship at all.”

The bench, also comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant, noted that a petition on the same issue has been filed in the Delhi High Court.

“We know time is of essence… we will give time of 2 weeks to the high court to dispose of (the petition),” it noted, adjourning the plea for two weeks. It added it will have the benefit of the high court order in the matter.

The bench, in its order, said: “In the meanwhile, we request the High Court of Delhi to consider hearing the Writ Petition (Civil) No 8654 of 2021, which is pending adjudication before it, as early as possible and preferably within a period of two weeks from today to enable us to have the benefit of the Judgment of the said Court.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that a similar petition is pending before the Delhi High Court and the petitioner before the apex court should also be asked to move the high court.

Bhushan argued that the petition in the high court was a “copy-paste” from his client’s petition. “It was filed through somebody else after we filed the petition here,” he said.

“Today we find ambush petitions being filed, filed in collusion with the government to get a dismissal of a genuine petition,” he said, adding that the high court had adjourned the petition to the mid-September, after it was informed that a similar plea is pending in the apex court.

Bhushan vehemently argued that “egregious violations of rules” has taken place in Asthana’s appointment, which has resulted in violation of fundamental rights of all citizens. The bench gave liberty to Bhushan to intervene in the petition filed before the Delhi High Court.

Mehta urged the top court to grant a period of at least four weeks to the high court to decide the matter, but the bench did not agree.

The top court has also asked the registry to place this petition before an appropriate bench. “The Registry is directed to list this matter after two weeks before an appropriate Bench,” said the top court in the order.