New Delhi: Controversial former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana and Puducherry DGP Balaji Srivastava are among the main contenders for the post of Delhi Police commissioner, with the current chief Amulya Patnaik set to retire at the end of this month, ThePrint has learnt.
It was earlier speculated that Patnaik will get an extension in the wake of the model code of conduct in place ahead of the Delhi assembly elections scheduled for 8 February.
Top government sources, however, told ThePrint that the Election Commission (EC) is likely to give a go-ahead to the home ministry for the appointment.
“It is a routine appointment, so there is no reason to not grant permission,” a source in the EC said.
When the model code of conduct is in place, no transfer and postings can be made without permission from the EC.
Another source told ThePrint that the government may even wait for a month or two to announce the new chief, and meanwhile the post of the commissioner will be held by his deputy. There is also a possibility of Patnaik getting a month’s extension, the source said.
The former CBI special director
According to a source in the home ministry, Asthana, who was number 2 in the CBI and was caught in a feud with his senior, CBI director Alok Verma, last year, when both accused each other of being corrupt, is the main contender for the post.
The 1984-batch Gujarat cadre officer, who is currently posted as Director Bureau of Civil Aviation and Security (BCAS), is said to be close to Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In 2016, after Anil Sinha retired as CBI director, the Modi government reportedly ignored several senior batches to appoint Asthana as the acting director for a few months.
During his tenure in the CBI, he had been involved in investigating some high-profile cases such as the Sabarmati Express fire in Godhra in 2002. As superintendent of police in the CBI, he also arrested Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam in 1997.
Asthana is currently being probed in six cases of corruption, which include two FIRs related to the Sterling Biotech case, two related to the arrest of journalist Upendra Rai, and one stemming from the recent CBI searches on a caterer at the Palika Services Officers’ Institute (PSOI) in Delhi.
The Delhi High Court has directed the CBI to submit a final report in the allegations against Asthana but the agency has already sought extensions thrice. The report will contain details of the investigation and evidence gathered in the case.
The current DGP Puducherry
The next contender for the post is the current Puducherry DGP, Balaji Srivastava.
The 1988-batch IPS office belongs to the AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories) cadre. He has also been given a guard of honour by the territorial police.
The third contender for the post is S.N. Srivastava, also an AGMUT cadre 1985-batch officer.
He is at present ADG (Training) in CRPF. He has served in Jammu and Kashmir and was also Special CP (special cell) in the Delhi Police.