New Delhi, July 28 : A day after Rakesh Asthana was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner with an year’s extension in service, the Congress on Wednesday slammed the government, terming it “another instance of blatant disregard towards the Supreme Court and the laws of the land”.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said: “Rakesh Asthana, the controversial IPS officer and the blue-eyed boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is back in the news.”
He said that with days left for superannuation of 1984 batch Gujarat cadre officer, the Amit Shah led-Home Ministry appointed him Delhi Police Commissioner, thereby effectively granting him a one year extension from the date of his superannuation “as a special case in public interest”.
“Not just is it an issue of inter-cadre appointment, the issue expands to another instance of blatant disregard towards the Supreme Court and the laws of the land,” he alleged.
The Congress leader said that Asthana was due to retire in three days, but Modi and Shah wanted their favourite IPS officer to stay in their proximity, and therefore, appointed him in stark violation of the guidelines mentioned in the Prakash Singh case which mandates that six-month residuary service period must be available.
“Was the opinion of the UPSC taken prior to confirming the appointment of Asthana? Asthana had six criminal cases against him that were being investigated in September 2018… within 10 days of the exit of CBI Director Alok Verma, in an orchestrated midnight coup in October 2018, the CBI, in response to an RTI, said there was just one case against Asthana,” he said.
Noting that the Civil Services has cadres that are state or region specific, and vacancies in Delhi are filled from the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, and Union Territory cadre, he asked: “The fact that Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, had to be brought in, warrants a critical question ‘Could the Government not find any efficient officer within the AGMUT cadre?'”
This action is an extension of what then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did by bringing in UP cadre IPS officer Ajay Raj Sharma as Delhi Police chief, he said.
Citing the Supreme Court judgment in the Prakash Singh case, the Congress leader said that it passed a landmark order, holding that while the Police Acts do not contemplate any fixed residual tenure for an officer to be recommended for appointment as the Director General of Police of a state, “the object in issuing the directions in Prakash Singh (supra), in our considered view, can best be achieved if the residual tenure of an officer i.e., remaining period of service till normal retirement, is fixed on a reasonable basis, which, in our considered view, should be a period of six months”.
It therefore held that its order in the case meant “that recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the Union Public Service Commission and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months i.e. officers who have at least six months of service prior to the retirement”, Khera said.
With just three days left before Asthana’s retirement, this notification by the Modi government issued under the seal of approval by Shah is downright “illegal” and in direct contravention of the Supreme Court judgment, he added.
He also noted that in the recent appointment of the CBI Director, Chief Justice of India, Justice N.V. Ramana, while expressing reservations to the candidature of Y.C. Modi and Asthana, reminded the Prime Minister of the Prakash Singh judgment. As both the officers had less than six months for retirement, their names were dropped despite being the two seniormost IPS officers in the fray.
“Despite being apprised of this, yet again, this government deemed it fit to arbitrarily proceed with the appointment of Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner,” he said, adding that “this was not the first instance of this government indulging in favouritism over merit”.