It seems that much-used terms such as empty coffers and austerity drive take a back seat when the cash-strapped Punjab government comes to "adjusting" its favourites in its departments, including the advocate general's (AG's) office.
Though the Punjab AG's office already has more than 130 law officers, 19 more have been appointed. Some of them joined on Friday.
These include five additional advocate generals (AAGs) for defending the government in cases in the Punjab and Haryana high court and two in Delhi courts. Also, five deputy advocate generals and seven assistant advocate generals have been appointed at Chandigarh.
The new additional advocate generals include Satinder Singh Gill, Manjari Nehru Kaul, Arshvinder Singh, Dr Deepa Singh and Ravinder Singh Randhawa (Chandigarh office) and Navjot Neelam and Vinay Mohan Sharma (Delhi office).
Those who have joined as deputy advocate generals are Bikar Singh Cheema, Harpreet Singh Garcha, Vaibhav Sharma, Chamkaur Singh Brar and Parneet Singh Grewal.
Simarjot Singh Dhillon, Paramjit Singh Madahar, Jasleen Kaur, Jashanpreet Singh, Meenakshi Goel, Vikram Bishnoi and Vapinder Pal Singh have joined as assistant advocate generals.
Ex-AAG is back
Arshvinder Singh has again joined the AG's office after he had quit the post of additional advocate general in October 2011. He had tendered his resignation soon after his father, Baldev Singh, then AG, had resigned during the previous regime of the Badal government (2007-12).
Baldev Singh had resigned on October 9, 2011, charging the Parkash Singh Badal government with undermining the prestige of the AG's office by interfering in routine matters.
The Punjab AG's office has more than 150 law officers as against 47 judges in the high court. These include around 70 additional advocate generals, five senior deputy advocate generals, 35 deputy advocate generals and 43 assistant advocate generals. A few of these law officers have been deputed at the advocate general's Delhi office for taking care of state government cases in Delhi courts.
No specific norms
Neither have any specific guidelines been framed by the Punjab and Haryana governments for appointing law officers in their advocate general's offices nor is there any criteria of selection such as written test or interview. It is a matter of fact that AG offices have become a "safe launching pad" for kith and kin of sitting or retired judges, politicians, IAS and IPS officers and other VIPs.
Manjari Nehru Kaul is the daughter of former high court judge RK Nehru, Satinder Singh Gill the son-in-law of former HC judge GS Chahal, Arshvinder Singh the son of former Punjab advocate general Baldev Singh and Dr Deepa Singh the wife of Haryana-cadre IPS officer KP Singh.