Updated: November 9, 2021 8:53:20 am
Months after Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, as then Cabinet minister in Capt Amarinder Singh-led dispensation, had opposed vociferously the appointment of sons of two MLAs on government posts, his son-in-law Tarun Vir Singh Lehal was Monday appointed as Additional Advocate General (AAG) in Punjab.
Randhawa is now a deputy chief minister in Charanjit Singh Channi-led Congress government and also holds the charge of department of home.
Lehal’s appointment was notified by the department of home affairs and justice on Monday, days after the Home Secretary had put up the file to the legal department. The appointment also has CM’s stamp.
Another advocate, Mukesh Chander Berry, too has been appointed as AAG. The government has also appointed Sumeet Mahajan as senior AAG, Aadil Singh Boparai as AAG, and Rehatbir Singh Maan as deputy AG.
According to an official order, Lehal and Berry have been “appointed in the office of the advocate general” with immediate effect and “will be defending cases for and on behalf of the state of Punjab in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on prevailing terms and conditions”.
“This engagement would be purely on a contractual basis initially up to March 31, 2022, which is extendable on year to year basis,” according to the order.
Stirs nepotism debate
This appointment comes at a time when PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is gunning for the AG. This is not the first time the Congress government has come under fire for nepotism. Randhawa himself had staunchly opposed jobs to sons of two ministers by former CM Capt Amarinder Singh.
Lehal, meanwhile, told PTI that the appointment has been made on the basis of merit and experience on the recommendation of the state’s advocate general. “I have been practicing for almost 13 years in the high court. Being a son-in-law of somebody, if that is negative, then I do not know what to say,” said Lehal.
The appointments come amidst an ongoing row over Advocate General APS Deol, whose appointment has been opposed tooth and nail by PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had even resigned from his post over the issue.
Aam Aadmi Party accused the government of betraying Punjab and following in the footsteps of former Amarinder Singh. Party co-incharge for Punjab, Raghav Chadha, claimed that only the family members of Congress minister and MLAs were getting jobs in the state.
“Congress is fulfilling its principal poll promise of ‘Har Ghar Naukri but with minor modification. Recipients of these jobs are family members of Congress ministers & MLAs. Latest beneficiary is Deputy CM Randhawa’s son-in-law. Channi is essentially carrying forward Captain’s legacy,” said Chadha.
He said people of Punjab are well aware of the “betrayal being committed by the Congress”.
Randhawa had earlier opposed recruitment of MLA Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa’s son as DSP on compassionate grounds and also of MLA Rakesh Pandey’s son as Naib Tehsildar. He had not only opposed it during the Cabinet meeting but also in public by giving a statement to the media. He had said that the government should concentrate on giving jobs to the unemployed rather than giving jobs to the sons of legislators. The issue had then created a furore in Punjab. Fateh Bajwa’s son had given up the job after a nudge by the party high command.
Interestingly, Sidhu’s son was also appointed a law officer by Amarinder government but after being accused of nepotism, Sidhu’s son had also given up the job.
Former Cabinet minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar’s son-in-law was also absorbed in the Excise Department recently.
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