The Delhi high court Thursday termed as 'copy-paste' a petition filed before it challenging the appointment of IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi police commissioner and warned the petitioner that such activity shall not be repeated in the future.
The high court also expressed anguish that the lawyer for the petitioner was unable to explain the averments made in the petition which were allegedly copied.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said this petition is entirely copied, including full stop and comma, from another plea filed with similar prayers before the Supreme Court and added that if the petitioner wants to file something he shall do it independently.
It said that the lawyer, who is the author of the petition which has been copied, is waiting in the queue to argue.
The high court was hearing a PIL by Sadre Alam, a lawyer, against the appointment of Asthana along with an intervention application by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, which has challenged the appointment before the Supreme Court.
“All these things you have copied from the memo of the senior advocate (referring to Bhushan). If you are copying, you do it 5 per cent and write 95 per cent of your own. Here, 97 to 99 per cent is copied even with all the full stops and commas. Don't do this in the future we have tolerated it this time,” the bench said.
To this, advocate B S Bagga, appearing for the petitioner, said, “I don't know from where these allegations have come from.”
Earlier, Bhushan had contended that Alam's petition was mala fide and a 'complete copy-paste' of his plea pending before the apex court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre, was also in agreement with Bhushan and had said this practice of copy-paste must be deprecated.
During the day's hearing, when Bagga started his argument on inter-cadre transfer, the chief justice asked him what he meant by 'super time scale.'
The court repeatedly asked the same question which he was unable to explain and sought time to check and come back.
“We are asking you for the last time, we will dismiss the petition with costs. You have copied from his memo that is the problem. Without understanding, you are reading. Now we want an additional explanation. What is the super time scale,” the bench said.
While addressing Bhushan, the bench said, “You people are also distributing your copies everywhere. Don't do this. He does not know what is super time scale is. You are doing it in good faith but it becomes a weapon. I have asked the question deliberately. What assistance we will get? This is how in the Delhi high court we are getting the assistance.”
While dictating the order, the bench said, “Counsel appearing in… started with an argument on inter cadre transfer. He simply read over paragraphs without explaining anything. When the word ‘super time scale' was read, we asked a question whether he can explain or not and the counsel for the petitioner was unable to explain what is the meaning of super time scale in the service jurisprudence.”
The counsel sought time and the court listed the matter for further hearing on September 27.
The high court had earlier issued notices to the Centre and Asthana on the petition.
The petitioner has sought quashing of the July 27 order issued by the ministry of home affairs appointing Asthana as the Delhi police commissioner and also the order granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service to him.
“The impugned orders (of MHA) are in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India in Prakash Singh case as respondent no.2 (Asthana) did not have a minimum residual tenure of six months; no Union Public Service Commission panel was formed for appointment of Delhi police commissioner, and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years have been ignored,” the plea said.
The Centre, in its affidavit, has said that the appointment of Asthana as Delhi police commissioner was done in the public interest, keeping in mind the diverse law and order challenges faced by the national capital, which have national security implications as well as international/cross border implications.
Defending his appointment, the Centre has said that it felt a 'compelling need' 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.'
It said his service tenure was also extended in the public interest, in the exercise of the powers vested in the cadre controlling authority.
Asthana, in his affidavit, has told the court that there is a sustained social media campaign against him and the legal challenge to his appointment was an abuse of process of law, arising from vendetta.
He said that ever since he was appointed special director, the Central Bureau of Investigation, proceedings are being consistently filed against him by certain organisations as part of a 'selective campaign.'
“There are two organisations namely Common Cause and Centre for Public Interest Litigation, which is professional public interest litigants and exists only for filing litigations as the only way of public service. One or two individuals run both the organisation enjoying deep and pervasive control over these organisations," the affidavit said.