Fearing termination of their contracts with the change of guard in Punjab, over two dozen law officers of the state have moved the Punjab and Haryana high court demanding that they be not removed till the time government finalises rules of engagement of law officers.
The matter will be taken up by the high court bench of justice Jaishree Thakur on Saturday in which new advocate general, Punjab, Atul Nanda is expected to argue the case since most law officers were appointed during the SAD-BJP government tenure.
The state’s law officers’ strength as of March 11 was 193 — 28 in Delhi and 165 at the Punjab and Haryana high court. The state had 16 additional advocate generals, four deputy advocate generals and eight other law officers in Delhi. In Chandigarh, the state had 68 additional advocates general, three senior deputy advocate generals and 40 deputy advocate generals and 54 assistant advocates general. As many as 16 have resigned after SADBJP combine lost to Congress in assembly polls.
Last month, the Punjab government had extended the tenure of all its law officers’ up to March 31, 2017. But state is yet to put in place the rules for appointment of law officers as directed by the SC in March 2016. As per the SC order, the state will have to fix eligibility criterion, besides, constituting a search committee. After nod from search committee, the names are to be sent to the chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court, who, in turn, would get it examined by a committee of the high court judges. The appointments can be made after taking into account observations on suitability of candidates by the chief justice.
The 26-odd law officers have demanded that state be directed not to terminate their contracts till the time rules are not framed by the government in terms of SC order. They have also sought pay parity with those law officers who are regular employees of the state. The high court has already issued notice to the state government and state will have to submit a reply on issues raised by law officers before court on Saturday. Barring three-four all other are on contract.