Two Lawyers, Same Downside: In Row Punjab AG, PAA Turnaround in Months

When the Congress government led by Charanjit Singh Channi appointed APS Senior Advocate Deol Advocate General (AG) of Punjab last September, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was among those who stirred up a storm. The AAP raised objections because Deol had represented former Director General of Police (DGP) Sumedh Saini, who was the police chief during the 2015 sacrilege incidents and is accused in the dismissal case of the police. Behbal Kalan Police. The the controversy eventually forced Deol to resign in November.

Months later, AAP now finds the roles reversed as they are under fire over Vinod Ghai’s appointment as state AG. Ghai was named after Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu has resigned from his post Tuesday, citing “personal reasons”. If the nomination is accepted, Ghai will become the state’s fifth AG in 10 months and the third to face opposition wrath for allegedly favoring the defendant in the 2015 sacrilege incidents or dispute. of interests.

Ghai not only represented Saini but also Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim who is charged in the sacrilege case and was also found guilty of rape and murder. Ghai is also the lawyer for former Ministers of State Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Vijay Singla. As the Vigilance Bureau investigates Ashu in connection with alleged irregularities worth Rs 2,000 crore in grain lifting tenders, Bhagwant Mann’s government removed Singla from the Cabinet in May for corruption allegations.

The AAP – whose polling board earlier this year, like that of Congress in 2017, included the promise of justice in the incidents of sacrilege and police firing cases of Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan – has been criticized for having chose Ghai. According to political observers, this reversed any gains made by the party when former Inspector General Kunwar Vijay Partap joined after his resignation from the police department last year. Partap led a special investigation team investigating the police shooting incidents, but resigned after the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the SIT investigation. During his resignation, he alleged that AG Atul Nanda had failed to properly pursue cases related to incidents of sacrilege.

Although then Captain CM Amarinder Singh did not throw Nanda under the bus, mounting political pressure within his own party, Congress, expelled him months later. Partap won the Assembly elections earlier this year on an AAP ticket, providing the Mann-led party with political leverage on the issue of sacrilege.

The controversy remained simmering and exploded again after Channi named Deol the AG. Soon the then opposition AAP raised the issue of Deol having represented Saini in an alleged corruption case. The lawyer obtained the former DGP’s blanket exemption from arrest in four FIRs. At the time, Assembly Opposition Leader Harpal Singh Cheema of the AAP called Deol’s appointment as AG a “conspiracy to deny justice” in the sacrilege cases.

“Legal ethics also do not allow a lawyer who first defends the case on behalf of the accused, to be able to fight the accused on behalf of the government. The appointment of Deol as AG is a plot to save the accused, which cannot be tolerated. All MPs from the Aam Aadmi party are writing letters to the Chief Minister in this regard,” he said.

Cut off from the present, Ghai’s appointment led to a pushback from Sikh bodies and the Congress. Haryana Sikh Gurdwara preacher and management committee chairman, Baljit Singh Daduwal denounced him on Thursday, saying, “Ghai has remained a defender of Chief Dera Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who is the main conspirator in the sacrilege incident of Bargari”.

Daduwal said a delegation from Haryana and Delhi Gurdwara management committees would meet Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit to discuss the matter. He warned that if the AAP government goes ahead with the appointment, it should be prepared to face protests from justice seekers. Behbal Kalan sacked the son of victim Krishan Bhagwan Singh, Sukhraj Singh, also criticized the government, saying that the relatives of the victims had no hope left in this government.

Sukhpal Khaira, Congress MP and Chairman of the Indian Congress Kisan Cell, said on Friday, “I have nothing personal against Vinod Ghai. But he represented Sumedh Saini and Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Where is the ethics? From now on, he will represent the government of Punjab in the same cases. The appointment revealed the bankruptcy of the state government. This nomination is erroneous and cannot be defended.

But, defending the government, AAP spokesman Malwinder Singh Kang said: “The initial objections against APS Deol were raised by none other than the then Punjab Congress Speaker, Navjot Singh Sidhu. Also, there was a history of a close association of Captain Amarinder Singh and Charanjit Singh Channi with the Badal family. So it’s about intention. Vinod Ghai is one of the best and most competent criminal lawyers in the High Court. As for a conflict of interest, I expect him to distance himself from his former clients.

The AAP leader went on to say, “All good lawyers have clients from all parties. Congress leader P Chidambaram is the lawyer for Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia in a drug case. The intention of the government of Punjab is clear. Ghai will leave behind all these clients and cases. The Punjab government can also send other lawyers in case of conflict of interest. But Ghai’s skill is behind his selection. He was the best choice for the job.

Banwarilal Purohit cleared Ghai’s appointment on Friday and referred the matter to the state government, sources told Raj Bhavan. But the government has yet to notify the appointment. Bhagwant Mann told reporters on Thursday that Ghai would soon officially take over as AG.

With Kanchan Vasdev, Chandigarh

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