The Punjab government has written to Punjab and Haryana high court, seeking extension of contracts till May 10 of law officers appointed by the previous SAD-BJP government.
It is learnt that the state advocate general, Atul Nanda, sent a letter to the Punjab and Haryana high court chief justice, detailing circumstances the government is faced with, besides seeking extension in tenure of officers.
The government is learnt to have argued that rules are yet to be put in place on appointment of law officers and state was in the process of doing the same. Hence, the state’s law officers’ be allowed to continue till May 10 or till the time rules are framed by government, whichever comes earlier.
The March 2016 judgment of the SC makes it mandatory to have an eligibility criteria, besides constituting a search committee. After nod from the search committee, the names are to be sent to the chief justice of the high court and appointments can take place after taking into account observations on suitability of candidates by the chief justice. State is working on legislation to blunt the Supreme Court judgment in order to appoint those who enjoy government “confidence”.
In march 2017, the state had a strength of 193 law officers — 165 at the high court and 28 in Delhi. Of the 165 officers at the high court, 68 are additional advocates general, three senior deputy advocate generals and 40 deputy advocate generals; besides 54 assistant advocates general. 16 officers had resigned recently.
The high court has last week declined to intervene on the plea of 26 law officers who had sought interim protection against their removal till the time state finalises rules on these appointments.