Govt cites ‘lack of options' for making Asthana Delhi top cop

© Provided by The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Lack of suitable options in the AGMUT cadre of an officer with “appropriate seniority with balanced experience” to head Delhi Police led the Centre to appoint Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana in “public interest”, the Delhi high court was informed on Thursday.

The “prime consideration” was Delhi was “witnessing diverse and extremely challenging situations of public order, law and order situation and policing issues, which not only had national security implications, but also international/cross border implications”. This required an officer “with exposure to complexities of governance and who had the knowledge of nuances of broad canvas policing”, the government said.

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In an affidavit filed through standing counsel Amit Mahajan, the Centre said no fault could be found in the appointment of Asthana as the city police commissioner that had been done in accordance with and after scrupulously following all applicable rules and regulations.

The Centre highlighted that the “best attempt of finding a suitable IPS officer having multifarious and diverse experience of policing in a vast state, central investigating agency, national security or paramilitary force” was made in the AGMUT cadre, but “it was found after thorough examination of available options that the experience of handling the police force” was not available.

“It was felt that requisite experience of working and supervising the central investigating agency/paramilitary force and police force of a large state having diverse political and law and order problems was lacking in the present pool of available officers,” the affidavit added.

Invoking “public interest”, the Centre said a decision was made to have an officer who had experience in all the above fields to supervise Delhi Police and to provide effective policing on the recent law and order situation that arose in the capital.

“Delhi being the capital of our country has its own characteristic factors that do not exist in any other commissionerate. Any incident happening here has far-reaching impact and implications not only throughout the country, but beyond the borders,” the affidavit contended.

It also differentiated between appointment of state DGPs according to the SC ruling in Prakash Singh case and appointment of the commissioner, adding that “requirement of a certain minimum tenure has no application for appointment of commissioners/police heads of Union Territories.”

The affidavit contended that the petition by Sadre Alam, a lawyer, challenging the appointment was an “abuse of process of law and manifestly an outcome of some personal vendetta”. It submitted that a PIL in service matter couldn’t be entertained. It added that the PIL, as well as intervention of NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation in Asthana’s appointment, “deserves to be dismissed with exemplary costs”.

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