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SC agrees to examine plea against Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police chief

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine a plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi Police commissioner, just three days before his retirement.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, submitted before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that he would file a special leave petition challenging the Delhi High Court ruling, stating that there was no irregularity in Asthana's appointment as the Delhi Police Commissioner, by Monday.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Asthana, objected to pendency of writ petition saying the issue had already been decided by the high court. They submitted that court, however, may consider a plea challenging the high court's judgement.

After hearing brief arguments in the matter, the top court posted the matter for further hearing on November 26. The bench also asked Bhushan to serve the copy on Centre's counsel as well as Asthana to obviate any chances of delay in hearing.

On October 12, a bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said: "In view of the aforesaid conspectus of judgements, expounding the principle of contemporanea expositio, we do not find any irregularity, illegality or infirmity in the action of Respondent No 1 (Centre) in appointing Respondent No 2 (Asthana), following the procedure followed for nearly over a decade."

The high court also ruled that Centre has power, jurisdiction and authority to make inter-cadre deputation of officers in public interest and the Supreme Court's judgements in Prakash Singh case on appointment of police heads would not apply to Union Territories.

The court junked the petition against Asthana's appointment as Commissioner of Delhi Police on July 27, just before his superannuation on July 31. "We see no reason to interfere in the decision of granting Inter-Cadre deputation to Respondent No 2," it noted, in its 77-page judgment.

The high court had said that petitioners -- advocate Sadre Alam and NGO CPIL led by advocate Bhushan -- have not been able to make out a case calling for interference or even remotely demonstrate that there is any blot in the service career of Asthana, which making him unsuitable for the post.