The Centre told the Delhi high court on Wednesday that ”intermeddlers” cannot be allowed to challenge the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi police commissioner.
”This is not Jantar Mantar or Ramlila maidan,” submitted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before a bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel.
The bench was hearing a PIL by one Sadre Alam against the appointment of Asthana along with an intervention application by an NGO which has challenged the appointment before the Supreme Court.
”Both have no business challenging the appointment... Any intermeddlers can't come to court,” he added.
The bench, which also comprised Justice Jyoti Singh, issued notice on the PIL and sought the Centre and Asthana's stand while listing the matter for further hearing on September 8.
Mehta said the petition before the high court ”seems to have been copied” from the NGO's plea filed before the apex court.
”It appears that Mr Alam seems to have copied and followed the dangerous path of Mr Bhushan (NGO's counsel). The debutant should be stopped,” said the counsel who went on to express his misgivings towards ”ready-made petitioners” and ”systematic pattern” of criticising all government-made appointments.
”(The petitioner) must be investigated. It is very serious... It is too much for a coincidence that same typographical error was possible,” he added.
Mehta sought time to respond to the petition on merit and said the court has to hear the ”affected officer” as well before any order is passed.
Appearing for the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), lawyer Prashant Bhushan stated that Alam's petition was mala fide and a ”complete copy-paste” of the plea pending before the apex court.
He clarified that he did not intend to argue before this court as the NGO's plea was pending before the Supreme Court.
B S Bagga, counsel for petitioner, maintained that the plea was not a product of ”copy-paste”.
The petitioner has sought the 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 plea also sought initiation of steps for appointing Delhi Police Commissioner strictly in accordance with the direction issued by the Supreme Court earlier.
”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 UPSC panel was formed for appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner; and the criteria of having a minimum tenure of two years has been ignored,” the plea said.
It claimed the high-powered committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, prime minister and the leader of opposition, in its meeting held on May 24, 2021, rejected the central government's attempt to appoint Asthana as the CBI director on the basis of the six-month rule as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case.
The appointment of Asthana to the post of commissioner of police, Delhi, must be set aside on the same principle, it said.
The petition with similar prayers which has been filed by CPIL before the Supreme Court has urged to direct the central government to produce the July 27 order it issued, approving the inter-cadre deputation of Asthana from Gujarat cadre to AGMUT cadre.
The petition has also urged the apex court to set aside the Centre's order to extend Asthana's service period.
On August 25, the Supreme Court had asked the high court to decide within two weeks the plea pending before it against the appointment of the senior IPS officer as Delhi police commissioner.