New Delhi, Sep 17 (PTI) Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana has told the Delhi High Court that there is a sustained social media campaign against him and the legal challenge to his appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner was an abuse of process of law, arising from vendetta.
In his affidavit filed on a public interest litigation (PIL) against his appointment, Asthana said that ever since he was appointed Special Director, CBI, 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 Litigations who are professional public interest litigants and exist 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.
"Individuals running them in recent past for some oblique and ostensible undisclosed reason have started barrage of selective actions against me either out of some vendetta about which I am not aware or at the behest of some individual/interest,” it added.
This personal vendetta or a proxy war is projected under the PIL cloak, it said, adding that the Court may not allow such attempts using the august forum.
The affidavit further said: “Not only the process of law was abused against the deponent, but in addition there was a sustained social media campaign which corroborates and justifies the apprehension of the deponent that the challenge to my appointment is the result of either some vendetta which is unknown to me or is being conducted at the behest of some undisclosed individual/ rival / interest.” The affidavit was filed in response to the PIL by Sadre Alam, a lawyer, who has sought quashing of the July 27 order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs appointing Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner as also the order granting inter-cadre deputation as well as extension of service to him just before his superannuation on July 31.
Asthana said the merits and demerits of his appointment could only be dealt with by the central government.
The Centre has submitted that Asthana's appointment was done in public interest, keeping in mind the diverse law and order challenges faced by the national capital.
Defending Asthana's appointment, the Centre, in an affidavit, 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”.
The Centre said his service tenure was also extended in public interest, in exercise of the powers vested in the cadre controlling authority.
“The prime consideration for the same was that Delhi being the capital of the country has been witnessing diverse and extremely challenging situations of public order/law and order situation/policing issues which not only had national security implications but also international/cross border implications,” said the affidavit filed by the Secretary, Union Home Ministry.
It explained that the when a search for a suitable candidate was done in the Union Territory cadre, it was felt that requisite experience was lacking in the present pool of available officers.
In the affidavit filed through lawyer Amit Mahajan, the Centre said no fault can be found in the appointment of Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, which has been done in accordance with and after scrupulously following all the applicable rules and regulations.
The Centre said that the PIL, as well as the intervention of NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) -- which has challenged Asthana's appointment before the Supreme Court, “deserves to be dismissed with exemplary costs”.
The petition has contended that the appointment of Asthana is in clear and blatant breach of the directions passed by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh case as the officer does not have a minimum residual tenure of six months and no UPSC panel was formed for his appointment of Delhi Police Commissioner.
It also contended that 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.