Rakesh Asthana, a former officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner, just three days before his retirement. A Union Home Ministry order said Mr Asthana, currently the Director General of the Border Security Force, would head the Delhi Police with a year’s extension in service granted “in public interest”.
Two months ago, Mr Asthana was ruled out of the race for the post of CBI Director because he was about to retire. When a panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in May to select a new chief investigator, Chief Justice NV Ramana reportedly raised a Supreme Court decision that officers with less than six months left in service should not be considered for police chief posts. That ruled out at least two names on the government’s shortlist, including Mr Asthana, who was to retire on July 31.
His appointment as Delhi Police chief was enabled by an extension granted “as a special case”, according to an order from the Appointments Committee of Cabinet comprising PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The order said Mr Asthana was getting an “inter cadre deputation” from the Gujarat cadre to AGMUT (from where Delhi Police chiefs are picked) and his service was being extended “initially for a period of one year beyond the date of his superannuation… as a special case in public interest”.
Mr Asthana’s appointment has come as a surprise to many who see him as an outsider. After SS Jog and Ajayraj Sharma, he is the third officer from other cadres to be given the top police post. The outgoing police chief, Mr. Balaji Srivastava, was given additional charge barely a month ago after SN Shrivastava retired. A 1984-batch IPS officer, Mr Asthana was moved out of Gujarat to the CBI as Special Director after the BJP-led government came to power in 2014