Senior Advocate Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu on Tuesday resigned from the post of Advocate General (AG) of Punjab citing “personal reasons”, while top-notch criminal lawyer Vinod Ghai is set to succeed him as the state’s top law officer.
Sidhu was appointed to the post in March this year after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won the assembly elections in Punjab.
The official resignation letter signed by Sidhu marked to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann read, “I am really thankful to the party for giving me a chance to represent the office of Advocate General, Punjab. Due to personal reasons, I won’t be able to serve this prestigious office, therefore, I hereby tender my resignation which may kindly be accepted at earliest.”
Sidhu is an eight-time president of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association.
Soon after Sidhu resigned from the post, Senior Advocate Vinod Ghai was clearly the front-runner for the job (AG of Punjab). According to sources, Ghai’s name has been confirmed for the job.
However, an official notification for the appointment of Ghai had not come till the filing of this report. But Ghai himself confirmed that the official notification will be out soon.
Ghai is a top-notch criminal lawyer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Born on June 1, 1966, Ghai did his LLB from Panjab University, Chandigarh, in 1989. He was designated as Senior Advocate in May 2012. He is the son of R S Ghai – Senior Advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Vinod Ghai had been the counsel for Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in sacrilege and other cases. He had also been the counsel for former Punjab Health Minister Vijay Singla and former Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ghai said, “As an Advocate General, I have to look forward to what the government wants and how these trials need to be expedited.”
On the sacrilege cases, Ghai added, “Whatever investigation has come up till now, I am planning to appoint a team that will find out why the trials are being delayed. The challans have been presented in the cases. The question is that even after the investigation is complete, why the trials are being delayed.”
On the police firing cases linked to the sacrilege case, Ghai said that he would try and get the trials expedited.
On the drugs issue in Punjab, Ghai said, “As a professional lawyer, I haven’t appeared much in drugs or NDPS cases. I think the mandatory provisions of NDPS Act should be followed and the investigation agency should be guided on it.”
He said, “All the cases which are pending in HC or adjourned for some reason or the other, their trials need to be expedited. In criminal cases, evidence collection of the investigation agency needs to be improved. Though policing is not under me, at least I can guide them about the type of evidence, how to collect the evidence and how to present it in the court, so that prosecution can be made strong.”
5 Advocate General changed in past 10 months
Senior Advocate Vinod Ghai will be the fifth Advocate General (AG) of Punjab in 10 months.
In September 2021, Atul Nanda had resigned from the AG’s post following the unceremonious exit of Amarinder Singh as the chief minister of Punjab.
After Nanda, Senior Advocate Amar Preet Singh Deol was appointed the AG during the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Congress government in Punjab. But in November, Deol too resigned from the post of AG.
After Deol, Senior Advocate Deepinder Singh Patwalia was appointed the AG. This was also during the Channi-led government. Patwalia resigned from the post in March 2022 after AAP won the assembly elections in Punjab.
After the results of Punjab elections, Senior Advocate Anmol Rattan Sidhu was appointed the AG.