Senior advocate R Venkataramani has been appointed as the new Attorney General of India (14th) for a period of three years.
A few days ago, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi had declined the government’s offer to be Attorney General (A-G) for India after “second thoughts”.
Who is the Attorney General for India?
- The Constitution of India places the post of the A-G on a special footing.
- The A-G is the Government of India’s first law officer, and has the right of audience in all courts of the country.
- Article 76(2) of the Constitution says “it shall be the duty of the Attorney-General to give advice to the Government of India upon such legal matters, and to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time be referred or assigned to him by the President”.
- The A-G is also supposed to “discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other law for the time being in force”.
- Under Article 88, the “Attorney-General of India shall have the right to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of, either House, any joint sitting of the Houses, and any committee of Parliament of which he may be named a member”.
- However, he “shall not by virtue of this article be entitled to vote” in the House.
- Also, the A-G for India is not, like the A-G for England and Wales and the A-G of the United States, a member of the Cabinet.
- 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.
- 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. They also represent 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 has no executive authority. Those functions are performed by the Law Minister of India. Also the AG is not a government servant and is not debarred from private legal practice.
- The attorney general can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government.
- They 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 Additional Solicitors General.
- 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.
Who can become Attorney General for India?
- Under Article 76(1), the A-G is appointed by the President from among persons who are “qualified to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court”.
- Article 76(4) says “the Attorney-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the President, and shall receive such remuneration as the President may determine.”
- The post of the A-G has been occupied by some of the finest jurists in India’s history.
- The first two incumbents of the post were the legendary M C Setalvad and C K Daphtary.
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