SC to HC: ‘Decide plea against Asthana’s appointment in 2 weeks’

New Delhi, Aug 25 (PTI):
The Supreme Court Wednesday asked Delhi High Court to decide within two weeks the plea pending before it challenging the appointment of senior IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner. The 1984-batch IPS officer was shifted to the Union cadre from Gujarat cadre and appointed Commissioner on July 27 — four days before his superannuation on July 31 — for a tenure of one year.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant permitted NGO, ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ (CPIL), to move the Delhi High Court to intervene in the pending plea against Asthana’s appointment. “We request the Delhi High Court to consider the matter as early as possible in two weeks for us to have the benefit of the high court’s judgement. The petitioner (CPIL) is at liberty to file intervention application (before Delhi HC)”, it said in the order.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, opposed the PIL saying the matter pertained to the appointment of police chief of a state and the high court concerned should deal with it.
He said the high court may be granted some more time instead of two weeks as so far no notice has been issued to the Centre which will have to file its response.
The petition, moved by advocate Prashant Bhushan, urged the court to set aside the Centre’s order to appoint Asthana after extending his service period. At the outset, the CJI expressed his inability to hear the PIL saying, I had expressed my views during the selection of CBI Director .
The CJI in an earlier meeting of the high-powered selection panel, which also comprised the Prime Minister and the leader of opposition, had put forth the legal position which reportedly led to non-consideration of Asthana for being appointed as the CBI Director.
“There are two issues. One is about my participation… I had expressed views about the selection of this gentleman in the CBI Director selection. Second thing…as somebody has filed a petition in the High Court, rightly or wrongly. We understand that time is of the essence of the matter. So, we will fix a time limit of two weeks for the high court to decide the case and we will have the benefit of the high court judgment also, CJI Ramana said.
Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, alleged foul play saying sometimes ambush petitions by simply resorting to cut-paste are filed in collusion with the government. The bench gave Bhushan the liberty to intervene in the pending petition or file a fresh one before the high court.
Mehta said a similar plea was pending in the high court and the NGO be asked to move there and asked which fundamental right of Bhushan has been violated leading him to file the petition in the apex court. Bhushan retorted that on his petition the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner was annulled in past, and Asthana’s appointment has been done by “egregious violations of rules” resulting into violation of fundamental rights of citizens.

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