The Centre on Wednesday opposed a plea against the appointment of Delhi Police chief Rakesh Asthana, arguing that it had become a practice for “so-called integrity keepers” to challenge such decisions by the government, Live Law reported.

A Delhi High Court bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh was hearing a public interest litigation challenging Asthana’s appointment to the post on July 27.

Advocate BS Bagga, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that Asthana’s appointment order granting him an extension of service came just four days ahead of his retirement date on July 31.

Bagga said that the decision violated Rule 56(d) of the All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules which states that government employees would not be given extensions beyond their retirement age of 60, Bar and Bench reported. He added that Asthana’s previous posting as a director general of Border Security Forces does not fall under certain cases under the Rule 56(d) where extensions of service are allowed.

Referring to a Supreme Court ruling in a previous case (Prakash Singh vs Union of India), Bagga argued that the minimum tenure of Asthana’s appointment should have been two years, while he has been made the Delhi Police chief only for one year.

Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Centre, argued that the Delhi Police operates differently than other states and judgement in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India case would not be applicable in this matter.

Sharma also challenged the locus standi of the petitioner referring to him as a “so-called integrity keeper”. Locus standi is a Latin phrase which refers to the right or capacity of a party to bring an action or to appear in a court.

The additional solicitor general contended that PILs in service matters are not maintainable according to the Supreme Court.

The matter will next be heard on August 24.

Asthana’s appointment has been challenged in the Supreme Court as well and a division bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana is hearing the matter. The move has drawn criticism from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress. On July 29, the Delhi Assembly passed a resolution against the appointment.

Asthana had a controversial stint as the special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. His name cropped up in a major controversy related to a bribery case in 2018. However, he was cleared of all charges in February 2020.