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We will see: SC on plea challenging Rakesh Asthana’s appointment

The plea alleged that Union home minister and Prime Minister “deliberately and knowingly” acted against the SC judgment

IANS | New Delhi |

A contempt petition has been moved in the Supreme Court making Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the Ministry of Home Affairs as respondents, while challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police Commissioner.

The plea moved by advocate M.L. Sharma said Asthana’s appointment to the post came just days before his superannuation on July 31, as a result he will have a tenure of one year as Delhi Police chief. On Tuesday, Sharma mentioned the petition before a bench comprising Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Surya Kant. Justice Ramana said: “Let us see if it is numbered. Let the petition be numbered first. We will see”.

In the contempt petition, Sharma claimed Asthana’s appointment did not comply with the top court judgment delivered on July 3, 2018. “All the States shall send their proposals in anticipation of the vacancies to the Union Public Service Commission, well in time at least three months prior to the date of retirement of the incumbent on the post of Director General of Police,” the plea cited an excerpt from the judgment.

The plea argued that the home ministry headed by Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi headed the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) knowingly and deliberately acted against the Supreme Court judgment, therefore a serious contempt of court is liable to proceed against both respondents.

“The intention of the accused in a contempt case is immaterial. What really matters is the effect or the likely effect of his act on the administration of justice. Any act which causes lack of confidence in the administration of justice, or otherwise interferes or tends to corrupt it, has to be prevented,” said the plea.

The plea said the Centre gave additional charge of the Delhi Police commissioner to Balaji Srivastava after the retirement of S.N. Shrivastava on June 30, and there was no indication at the time that the charge was temporary.

Prior to his appointment as the Delhi Police chief on July 27, Asthana was Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF). He is a 1984-batch Indian Police Service officer from the Gujarat cadre. On Thursday, Delhi Assembly passed a resolution against Asthana’s appointment.