‘Personal vendetta, not public interest’: Centre, Asthana on pleas against his appointment as Delhi top cop

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The Central government and the Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana have termed the challenge to his appointment to the post as a “personal vendetta, not even remotely in the interest of the general public”, by the petitioner, NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

Asthana, in a counter-affidavit, said the “sustained and strategic maligning of his character” establishes the mala fide agenda of the petitioner in carrying out a personal vendetta against him.

“Hence, the present petition is another attempt in furtherance to the personal vendetta and is not even remotely in the interest of the general public,” he added.

Similarly, the Centre, in an affidavit, said: “it is submitted the present petition is an abuse of process of law and manifestly an outcome of some personal vendetta against the incumbent police commissioner entertained by the petitioner.”

The NGO’s petition cites a breach of apex court directions requiring an officer must have six months of service left for such an assignment. It has filed two petitions in the top court – one against the Centre’s order appointing Asthana as Delhi Police chief, and the other challenging the Delhi High Court judgment, which dismissed its plea. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the Centre and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Asthana.

In an affidavit, the Centre, strongly defending Asthana’s appointment, told the Supreme Court there was a compelling need to have someone like him in the post and his term was extended in the public interest. “A compelling need was felt by the Central Government to appoint a person as a head of the police force of Delhi, who had diverse and vast experience of heading a large police force in a large state having diverse political as well as public order problem/experience of working and supervising Central Investigating Agency(s) as well as para-military forces,” said the Centre.

A bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.S. Bopanna on Wednesday took up the petitions filed by the NGO challenging Asthana’s appointment and posted it for hearing on a non-miscellaneous day.

The top court said it would take up the matter in the week commencing on January 17.

On Wednesday, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, contended that he will take nearly 40 minutes to argue the matter. However, due to the hearing scheduled on the petitions challenging the EWS quota in NEET-AIQ, the top court adjourned the matter.

Asthana was appointed as Delhi Police chief in July, three days before his retirement. He was granted a year’s extension after his appointment and also given a deputation from the Gujarat cadre to the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territory) cadre from which Delhi Police chiefs are usually picked.

Last year, the Delhi High Court dismissed a challenge to Asthana’s appointment.

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