Barely 48 hours after the surprise appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the national capital passed a resolution in the Assembly against the move. It sharply criticised the Centre’s decision, saying it has “reasonable apprehensions” that Asthana will be used to “create a reign of terror” against the state government.
The Union Home Ministry on Tuesday appointed Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer who was set to retire this weekend, as the new Police Commissioner of Delhi. He took charge on Wednesday. Asthana was serving as the chief of Border Security Force. Now, ITBP chief SS Deswal has taken additional charge of the BSF.
Opposing the Home Ministry decision, AAP MLA Sanjeev Jha tabled a resolution in the Assembly on Thursday, and this was adopted after a brief discussion. During the discussion, six MLAs of the ruling party, including Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain, made sharp remarks against Asthana.
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The Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly — the BJP’s Ramvir Singh Bidhuri — hailed the appointment, said an Indian Express report.
The resolution directs the Delhi government to ask the Home Ministry to withdraw the appointment order and launch a fresh recruitment process for the top post.
Jha said the appointment was in violation of a 2019 Supreme Court judgment in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India case, said the IE report. The judgment said only officers who have at least six months of service left before retirement can be considered for the post of Director General of Police (DGP). The head of Delhi police is the Commissioner, whereas in most states, it is the DGP.
“It is beyond any reasonable understanding as to why a controversial officer who was removed by this Central government from the post of Special Director CBI in October 2018 and was not considered fit for the post of CBI director only very recently, is being imposed on Delhi police.
“Given the past track record of this officer, there is reasonable apprehension that the Central government will use him for foisting false cases on political rivals to create a reign of terror in the national capital. Such a controversial individual should not be heading the police force in the country’s national capital,” the resolution said.
AAP MLA Bhupinder Singh Joon said during the discussion: “If the Centre does not consider the post of DGP as equivalent to Commissioner of Delhi Police, then it is a demotion for Asthana as he has already served as DG, BSF and if the post of CP is equal to that of a DGP, then it is a clear violation of the SC order.”
‘Blue-eyed boy of PM’
Asthana, who was set to retire on July 31, has been given a year-long extension. According to the report, Jha alleged that Asthana, “who has been the blue-eyed boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, has been sent on a “special mission to Delhi”.
“A Gujarat cadre officer, who has no idea about Delhi’s crime and law and order situation, has been made its police chief, overlooking officers with decades of experience. This also amounts to insulting the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre,” he said.
The resolution further said the post of Commissioner of Delhi Police belongs to the AGMUT cadre of the IPS. “This appointment of a controversial Gujarat cadre officer, who has faced multiple inquiries on serious charges in the past, will only bring Delhi police into controversies,” it stated.