Attorney General of India

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The Attorney General for India is the Indian government's chief legal advisor, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India. He is appointed by the President of India under [[s:Constitution of India/Part V#Article 76 {Attorney-General for India}|Article 76(1) of the Constitution]] and holds office during the pleasure of the President. He must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

The 14th and current Attorney General is Mukul Rohatgi, who was appointed by the Pranab Mukherjee the President of India. He has been formally appointed as Attorney General of India with effect from 12 June 2014 and shall have a tenure of 3 years.[1][2]

Powers and duties[edit]

See also: [[s:Constitution of India/Part V#Article 76 {Attorney-General for India}|Article 76, Constitution of India]]

The Attorney General is necessary for giving advice to the Government of India in legal matters referred to him. He also performs other legal duties assigned to him by the President. The Attorney General has the right of audience in all Courts in India as well as the right to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament, though not to vote.[3] The Attorney General appears on behalf of Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which Government of India is concerned. He also represents the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.

Unlike the Attorney General of the United States, the Attorney General of India does not have any executive authority. Those functions are performed by the Law Minister of India.

The Attorney General can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government. He cannot defend an accused in the criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.

The Attorney General is assisted by a Solicitor General and four Additional Solicitors General.[3] The Attorney General is to be consulted only in legal matters of real importance and only after the Ministry of Law has been consulted. All references to the Attorney General are made by the Law Ministry.

Fee and allowances payable[edit]

Fee and allowances payable to the law officers (including Attorney General of India, Solicitor General of India and the Additional Solicitors General) of the Government of India are as under:[4]

S.No. Nomenclature of the item of work Rates of fees payable for appearance and other work
(1) Suits, writ petitions, appeals and references under article 143 Rs. 16,000/- per case per day
(2) Special leave petitions and other applications Rs. 10,000/- per case per day
(3) Settling pleadings (including affidavits) Rs. 5,000/- per pleading
(4) Settling Statement of Case Rs. 6,000/- per case
(5) For giving opinions in statements of cases sent by the Ministry of Law Rs. 10,000/- per case
(6) For written submission before the Supreme Court, High Court, and Commissions of Inquiry or Tribunals and the like Rs. 10,000/- per case
(7) Appearance in Courts outside Delhi Rs. 40,000/- per day per case

In addition to the above fee payable for cases, a retainer fee is paid to the Attorney General of India, Solicitor General of India and the Additional Solicitors General at the rate of Rs. 50,000, Rs. 40,000, and Rs. 30,000 per month, respectively. Moreover, the Attorney General of India is also paid a sumptuary allowance of rupees four thousand per month, except during the period of his leave.

Politicization of the Attorney General[edit]

Attorney General is selected by the Government and acts as its advocate, and hence is not a neutral person. Nevertheless, it is a constitutional authority, and his or her opinions are subject to public scrutiny. On several occasions however, the opinions pursued by the Attorney General appear to have been extremely politicized.[5]

During some of the AG tenures, it has been felt that the attorney general has gone too far. Niren De during Indira Gandhi replied to a question by Hans Raj Khanna stating that even the right to life can be suspended during emergency.

Similarly, in 2005, when the UPA government was planning a possible coalition with Mayawati, Milon K. Banerjee's opinion absolving Mayawati in the Taj corridor case was ignored by the Supreme Court[6] In a direct condemnation of the government which asked the CBI to heed attorney general Milon Banerjee’s opinion and close the case against Mayawati, the Supreme Court told the agency not to go solely on the AG’s opinion and place all evidence before it.[7]

In 2009, Milon K. Banerjee's opinion absolving Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors scandal has also been viewed as "devaluing and eroding the Attorney General's position".[5]

During the UPA-II government (2009-2014), the conduct of Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati was criticized in a number of cases. In 2G spectrum scam, he became the first Attorney General in India’s history who had to testify as a witness in a corruption case in a trial court.[8][9] In late April 2013, in Coal-gate scandal, Vahanvati was accused of misrepresenting facts in the top most court of India.[10] Again the in the same case, Vahanvati's role came under scrutiny after allegations of impropriety and coercion emerged from his junior law officer, Harin P. Raval, who resigned from the post of Additional Solicitor General as a result.[11]

List of Attorney Generals for India[edit]

The Attorney Generals for India since independence are listed below:[12]

Attorney General Term Incumbent Prime Minister
M. C. Setalvad 28.01.1950 - 01.03.1963 Jawaharlal Nehru
C.K.Daphtary 02.03.1963 - 30.10.1968 Jawaharlal Nehru; Lal Bahadur Shastri
Niren De 01.11.1968 - 31.03.1977 Indira Gandhi
S.V. Gupte 01.04.1977 - 08.08.1979 Morarji Desai
L.N. Sinha 09.08.1979 - 08.08.1983 Indira Gandhi
K. Parasaran 09.08.1983 - 08.12.1989 Indira Gandhi; Rajiv Gandhi
Soli Sorabjee 09.12.1989 - 02.12.1990 V. P. Singh; Chandra Shekhar
G. Ramaswamy 03.12.1990 - 23.11.1992 Chandra Shekhar; P. V. Narasimha Rao
Milon K. Banerji 21.11.1992 - 08.07.1996 P. V. Narasimha Rao
Ashok Desai 09.07.1996 - 06.04.1998 H. D. Devegowda; Inder Kumar Gujral
Soli Sorabjee 07.04.1998 - 04.06.2004 Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Milon K. Banerji 05.06.2004 - 07.06.2009 Manmohan Singh
Goolam Essaji Vahanvati 08.06.2009 - 11.06.2014 Manmohan Singh
Mukul Rohatgi 12.06.2014 - 11.06.2017 (Incumbent) Narendra Modi

References[edit]

  1. ^ "List of Law Officers of Government of India". Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi is new Attorney General". Zee News. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Supreme Court of India - CONSTITUTION". Supreme Court of India. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Fee and allowances payable to law officers". Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Milon Banerjee has devalued his position: BJP". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 30 April 2009. 
  6. ^ http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/aug/26flip.htm
  7. ^ http://www.asiantribune.com/oldsite/show_news.php?id=13395
  8. ^ Kaushik, Krishn (1 May 2013). "Inside Man - The convenient opinions of Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati". The Caravan. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "AG deposes in 2G case, Raja calls him liar". February 28, 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  10. ^ [1], coal-gate-attorney-general-misrepresented-facts-to-supreme-court-says-letter-bomb NDTV news report.
  11. ^ Bhatt, Abhinav (30 April 2013). "Harin Raval resigns as Additional Solicitor General after Coal-Gate letter bomb". NDTV. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Attorney General of Independent India