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‘Personal vendetta under PIL cloak’: Asthana on challenge to his appointment

“This personal vendetta or a proxy war is projected under the cloak of public interest litigation. This Hon’ble Court may not allow such attempts using the august forum of this Hon’ble Court”

IANS | New Delhi |

Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana has told the Delhi High Court that the PIL challenging his appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner is either “personal vendetta” or a “proxy war under the cloak of public interest litigation”.

He alleged that there is a “sustained social media campaign” against him and the plea before the high court was an “abuse of process of law”.

In an affidavit, Asthana claimed there are two organisations — Common Cause and Centre for Public Interest Litigations — who are professional public interest litigants and exist only for filing litigation as the only way of public service.

“These petitions are, therefore, not bona fide public interest litigations but are a flagrant abuse of august forum of this court for some hidden personal vendetta of either of them or of someone on whose behest several attempts are being made against me to derail my career,” he said in the affidavit.

He added one or two individuals “enjoy deep and pervasive control” over these organisations, which are spear-heading a “malicious campaign” against him and “this has been regularly happening since I was appointed as Special Director in Central Bureau of Investigation”.

He claimed that “not only was the process of law was abused against him, but in addition there was a sustained social media campaign, which corroborates and justifies his apprehension that the challenge to his appointment is the result of either some vendetta being conducted at the behest of some undisclosed individual/rival/interest”.

“This personal vendetta or a proxy war is projected under the cloak of public interest litigation. This Hon’ble Court may not allow such attempts using the august forum of this Hon’ble Court”, said the affidavit, which cited tweets between October 20, 2017 to July 28, 2021.

The Centre has also told the Delhi High Court that the national capital has a specific and special requirement, as it witnessed certain untoward and extremely challenging public order problems/riots/crimes having an international implication, therefore appointment of Asthana as Delhi’s Commissioner of Police was made in “public interest”.

Both the Centre and Asthana filed their response on a PIL which seeking quashing of the July 27 order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs appointing Asthana as the Delhi Police chief and also the order granting inter-cadre deputation and extension of service to him just before his superannuation on July 31.

The Centre’s affidavit also claimed the PIL, as well as the intervention of Centre for Public Interest Litigation, “was an abuse of process of law and manifestly an outcome of some personal vendetta against the incumbent Police Commissioner entertained by the petitioner as well as the intervener”.

The Supreme Court, on August 25, asked the high court to decide the plea against Asthana’s appointment within two weeks. The matter is listed for further hearing on September 20.