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Attorney General for India

Context:

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi has declined the government’s offer to be Attorney General (A-G) for India after “second thoughts”.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who is the Attorney General for India?
  2. Who can become Attorney General for India?
  3. Functions and duties
  4. Powers of AG
  5. Limitations to his powers

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.
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.”

Powers and Functions:

  • He is necessary for advising the Government of India on legal matters referred to them.
  • They also perform other legal duties assigned to them by the President.
  • He 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 AGI appears on behalf of the Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which GoI 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.
  • They cannot defend an accused in criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.
  • The AG 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 AG are made by the Law Ministry.

Limitations to his powers

  • He should not advise or hold a brief against the Government of India
  • He should not defend accused persons in criminal cases without the permission of the government of India
  • He should not accept appointment as a director in any company without the permission of the government

-Source: Indian Express


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December 2022
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