Surprisingly, Punjab's advocate general Ashok Aggarwal was arguing the case on behalf of the producer of Hindi film 'Grand Masti' though the Punjab government was one of the parties (respondents) in the letters patent appeal filed by him on Thursday.
This is despite the fact that the petitioner, Dinesh Chadha, while filing the writ petition challenging the release of the movie, had also impleaded the Punjab government as one of the respondents.
It was then on September 10 that the single judge while staying the release of the movie had issued notice of motion to all the parties in the case, including the Punjab government, for filing their replies on September 20, the next date of hearing.
When asked about his stand, Aggarwal, top law officer of the state holding the constitutional post, said, "I can appear for the petitioner as there is no conflict with the state, no state order is under challenge. In this case, Punjab was pro forma party."
Replying to the question whether a state law officer can appear in a case in which the state is one of the opposite parties, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana chairman Randhir Singh Badhran said, "It is against legal ethics. A law officer when appointed signs a contract with the state government and cannot appear against the state. If he violates it, the state government is authorised to take action against him."
Questioned about the Bar Council's role in such cases, Badhran clarified that the council only took note of such cases when they were referred to it. "Such cases are put up before the disciplinary committee," he said.
Some of the senior advocates, when contacted by HT were of the view that professional legal ethics demanded a person occupying a constitutional position not to appear in any such case where the state government is a opposite party.