Less than four months after he was appointed,Advocate General of Punjab Baldev Singh resigned on Sunday alleging that he was being pressurised to hand over the charge of senior standing counsel of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to another lawyer but sources said he was asked to put in his papers.
As of now the government has not decided who the next advocate general will be but sources said senior lawyer and former advocate general of Haryana Ashok Aggarwal is the front-runner for the post.
The PSEB chairman,in a September 23 notification,had appointed Baldev Singh as the senior standing counsel of the board. Ever since this notification was issued,I was under pressure to hand over the charge to Rupinder Singh Khosla. This was not acceptable to me,so I resigned, Baldev Singh told The Indian Express.
Stating that it is the Advocate General of a state who remains the senior standing counsel of PSEB,Baldev Singh said handing over the charge to some other lawyer would have undermined the dignity of the Advocate Generals office.
But he scotched rumours that he was asked to put in his papers. This is totally incorrect. I was not asked to resign. I have myself decided to opt out.
However,top government sources said Baldev Singh was asked to resign due to a variety of factors that included lack of administrative experience and non-appearance in major cases including the Punjab Public Service Commission case.
Sources also said Punjab lost major cases during his tenure,which also went against him. Besides these reasons,the mishandling of the ruling SAD (Badal) ally BJP by the Advocate Generals office is also seen as having worked against him.
Meanwhile,Additional Advocate General Rupinder Singh Khosla denied knowledge of any pressure being exerted on Baldev Singh.
I have no knowledge of any such alleged pressure exerted on Baldev Singh because of me, Khosla told The Indian Express.
Sources confirmed that there was a disagreement over who should hold charge as the senior standing counsel of PSEB. While Baldev Singh was not willing to relinquish the charge,the state government wanted him to do so.
Baldev Singh was never pressurised. Moreover,the charge of senior standing counsel of a board is too small an issue for the advocate general of a state to resign. If this is the reason for his resignation,he should have done so much earlier, said a senior officer of the state government.
A fortnight ago,five law officers from the office of Advocate General,who were front-runners for the AGs office,submitted their resignations.
Though the law officers had cited personal reasons behind their resignations,majority of them were reportedly not happy with functioning of the Advocate Generals office. Some of them had told The Indian Express that the atmosphere of the Advocate Generals office had become stifling.