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GHAI’S APPOINTMENT AS AG PUNJAB IN A ROUGH WEATHER
HAS HELD VARIETY OF CASES THAT MAY QUESTION HIS CREDENTIALS AS
Punjab govt new advocate general appointment may go in a rough weather as the newly nominated (yet to get appointment letter) Vinod Ghai, is presently a counsel of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) working president and former Food and Civil Supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, against whom the matter concerning alleged “irregularities” to the tune of Rs 2000 crore in grain-lifting tenders, is being probed by Vigilance Bureau of Punjab.
He is also a counsel of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmit Ram Rahim,in a case to dispense with his physical presence and production before a court in connection with a sacrilege-related matter.
Ghai is going to be the second AG, Punjab in AAP’s four month old government in Punjab. In the last ten months, four advocate generals have been changed by successive state governments. After Atul Nanda’s exit, the Channi government appointed APS Deol as the AG Punjab in September, 2021. A little more than a month after his appointment as the state’s top officer, Punjab’s Advocate-General APS Deol tendered his resignation to CM Charanjit Singh Channi. Then, DS Patwalia was appointed in quick succession on November 19, 2021 and resigned on March 11, 2022. After Atul Nanda’s exit, Anmol Rattan Sidhu is the only AG who completed his four months tenure.
In Bharat Bhushan Ashu’s case, the Vigilance Bureau is probing the case after representatives of small contractors of labour and transport submitted a complaint in this regard. In the above case former advocate general, Punjab Anmol Rattan Singh Sidhu represented the Punjab government and newly appointed AG Punjab Vinod Ghai represented Bharat Bhushan Ashu. Along with Vinod Ghai, Kanika Ahuja and Tarun Seth, has sought that if an FIR is registered against Bharat Bhushan Ashu, he shall not be arrested unless a prior advance notice of atleast seven days is given to him from the date of registration of FIR.
Ashu has submitted in the petition that he took over as Cabinet Minister in 2018, a new policy for procuring of food grains (mainly wheat and paddy) through its Food Procuring Agencies and Food Corporation of India, on behalf of Government of India from various purchase centres or mandis, situated in Punjab was made and the same was approved by the then Punjab Cabinet.
Punjab New Advocate General appointment may run into controversy. Ghai is a counsel of controversial Dera head Gurmit Ram Rahim. In the 2017 violence case after Gurmit Ram Rahim conviction, Vinod Ghai represented Dera in the Punjab and Haryana high court. In Dera chief case, Vinod Ghai had objected to Ram Rahim’s appearance before a trial court in Punjab in connection with a sacrilege case.
Vinod Ghai is also a counsel of former Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini in which Saini was booked under FIR No.77 dated 06.05.2020 registered under Sections 364, 201,344, 330, 219, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 at Police Station City Mataur, District S.A.S. Nagar (Mohali) to which Section 302 of the IPC was added later on regarding SLP No.4336 of 2020 titled Sumedh Singh Saini Vs. State of Punjab.
Vinod Ghai is also a counsel of Shagunpreet Singh, controversial manager of Sidhu Moosewala. Ghai, while representing the petitioner, contended that Shagunpreet Singh never absconded from India and had gone to Australia to meet his friends. But the court denied him bail.
The son of noted criminal lawyer, late RS Ghai, 62-year-old Vinod Ghai is a practicing at Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh since 1989. With specialization in criminal law and designated as a senior advocate since 2012, he is an expert in murder cases. Ghai has argued maximum bail applications and murder appeals in Punjab and Haryana High Court with success.
Earlier, in congress regime, DS Patwalia appointment had been stalled as his elder brother Paramjit Singh Patwalia remained Assistant Solicitor General from 2014 for three years in BJP led NDA government. Due to this Congress high command raised objections and stalled his appointment as AG Punjab.