The Union government on Wednesday defended the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Delhi police chief, and said that his term was extended in public interest, NDTV reported.

The Centre made the statement in response to a petition by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, headed by lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan.

The NGO claimed that the appointment violated the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Prakash Singh case in which the bench had held that an officer needs to have at least six months of service left to become the chief of the police administration of a state.

The Centre, however, said that the judgement applies to the post of the director general of police of a state, and not for the post of commissioner of police or the police chief in a Union Territory, Live Law reported.

The Union government said that there was a “compelling need” to appoint a person who had experience of heading a large police force, and of working in a central investigating agency. Asthana was earlier the Special Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

At the time of Asthana’s appointment as the Delhi police commissioner, he was deputed from the Gujarat cadre of the Indian Police Service to the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre. The Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that there was nothing illegal in the inter-cadre deputation of the officer.

Asthana was also granted extension of service for one year or until further orders at the time of his appointment.

The Centre said that at the time of the appointment, Delhi “had been witnessing diverse and extremely challenging situations of public order/law and order situation/policing issues...”

On Wednesday, Asthana also filed a response to the petition. He claimed that the plea was an abuse of the legal process and the petitioner have “personal vendetta” against him.

“Any untoward incident in the National Capital or a law-and-order situation will have far reaching consequences, impact, repercussions and implications not only in India but across the international borders,” he noted, according to NDTV. “Thus, it is imperative. that “free movement of joints” is given to the Central Government for appointment of Commissioner of Police, Delhi, keeping in mind the complexities in the national capital.”

The Supreme Court has posted the matter for final disposal but did not mention the next date of hearing.