Four law officers continue to defend Haryana without extension

“I have recommended their extension to the government because we need law officers. If the government does not approve of it, we are not going to pay them salaries,” said Haryana AG.

Written by Sanjeev Verma | Chandigarh | Updated: February 11, 2017 10:30:24 am

CONTINUATION OF four ‘favourite’ additional advocates general in Haryana, including the wife of a senior IAS officer, for over a month after the end of their one-year contract and without getting extension has raised questions about the legal sanctity of their appearance to defend the state government in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The additional advocates general are Shubhra Singh (wife of Haryana IAS officer AK Singh), Ankur Mittal, Rajesh Goel and Indresh Goel. Their contract expired on January 6.

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Haryana A-G Baldev Raj Mahajan agreed that these law officers were appearing in court without getting extension. He said, “I have recommended their extension to the government because we need law officers. If the government does not approve of it, we are not going to pay them salaries.”

But some of the senior advocates dealing in service matters, when reached out for comments by The Indian Express, raised questions on appearance of these law officers without any appointment letter. One of the senior advocates, who wished not to be named, questioned, “Can an advocate appear in any case without having vakalatnama from his client? What if some person loses a case against the Haryana government on the basis of such advocate’s assistance to the court and tomorrow files a Quo Warranto petition in the court questioning advocates’ authority to appear without appointment letter?”

Ram Niwas, Additional Chief Secretary, Home and Administration of Justice departments, said, “We have received the Advocate-General’s recommendation for their extension. But, the matter for amendment in the Haryana Law Officers (Engagement) Act, 2016, for granting extension to law officers will be put up in the forthcoming Assembly session and also constitution of selection committee is under process.” He further added, “Once these two things are done by next month, the matter will be placed before the selection committee and we will issue appointment letters to these law officers from retrospective date.”

The Haryana Cabinet under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had on January 3 approved amendment in the Haryana Law Officers (Engagement) Act, 2016, considering “matter is of emergent nature” and taken the alibi of “acute shortage of law officers”. However, the recommendation to amend the Act through ordinance route to facilitate extension to law officers has not been sent to the Governor yet.

When asked about why the Haryana government was not issuing advertisement for filling up law officers’ vacant posts, Ram Niwas replied, “We will issue advertisement after the amendment of the Act.”

The Indian Express had earlier reported that how the state government in order to adjust its “favourite law officers” had on December 19 last year extended contracts of two Deputy Advocates General Himmat Singh and Vivek Saini “till further orders” without putting the case before the selection committee, as directed by the Supreme Court on March 30 last year in “Pardeep Kumar Rapria vs State of Haryana and others.”

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