Bowing to pressure from State Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Punjab government led by Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday removed A.P.S. Deol as Advocate General. The move was a key pre-condition of Mr. Sidhu for resuming his duties as the Punjab Congress Committee chief, even as he withdrew his resignation last week.
In an attempt to present a united face amid the ongoing crises in the party, Mr. Channi and Mr. Sidhu addressed a joint press conference in the State capital and announced that the resignation of Mr. Deol has been accepted among other Cabinet decisions.
“Advocate General had resigned a few days ago. The Cabinet has accepted his (AG) resignation. We will send the resignation to the Governor and tomorrow we will appoint a new AG,” said Mr. Channi, after presiding over the Cabinet meeting.
“As far as the appointment of new DGP is concerned, we have already forwarded the names to the Centre,” the Chief Minister said.
Mr. Sidhu, who had on September 28 quit from his post without assigning any reasons, had strong reservations over the appointments of Director General of Police Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, who was given additional charge as the DGP, and State’s Advocate General A.P.S. Deol.
Mr. Sidhu, last week took back his resignation asserting that he would return to his duties the day the State got a new Advocate General and the DGP. The decision of removing the Advocate General is being seen as an attempt to placate Mr. Sidhu, who has been at attacking his own government on public platforms.
Recently, Mr. Sidhu and Mr. Deol had exchanged sharp words. Mr. Deol in a statement had accused Mr. Sidhu of spreading misinformation for selfish political gain ahead of the Assembly election in Punjab. Mr. Sidhu had hit back at Mr. Deol, alleging that “earnest inaction” in the cases related to sacrilege and drugs was “subverting justice”. He added that a lawyer (Mr. Deol) who procured blanket protection for the police in the 2015 Kotkapura firing on a gathering of Sikh demonstrators did not have moral or ethical right to continue. Notably, Mr. Deol had represented former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in cases related to the 2015 police firing incident.
In other decisions, the State Cabinet approved the Punjab State Sand and Gravel Mining Policy, 2021, to provide sand and gravel at ₹5.50 per cubic feet. Regularising the services of the employees working on contract, ad hoc, work charged, daily wages and temporary basis, the Cabinet approved ‘The Punjab Protection and Regularization of Contractual Employees Bill-2021’ to be introduced in the forthcoming session of the State Assembly.
At the press conference, Mr. Sidhu congratulated the Chief Minister over the decision to fix the rate of sand-gravel. “...I have been saying this that the day the rates of sand are fixed, the ‘mafia’ will be finished. The State needs financial stability... the Chief Minister has climbed the first step today, history has been created as the rate of sand will be fixed, even though I want to take it much further, I want to make a stockyard. Everyone needs to understand that there is nothing called as sand mafia. It’s the transport mafia, if sand is transported from the government stockyard it can be checked and accounted for,” he said.