Attorney General of India

Introduction

  • The Attorney General of India is the highest law officer of the Republic of India.
  • He is appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Union Cabinet.
  • The Attorney General is the chief legal advisor to the Government of India and represents the Union government in all courts in India.
  • He also has the right to speak and take part in the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament, but does not have the right to vote.
  • The Attorney General of India must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • This means that he must have been a Judge of a High Court for at least five years, or an Advocate of a High Court for at least ten years, or an eminent jurist in the opinion of the President.

Present Attorney General of India


  • As of today, September 8, 2023, the Attorney General of India is R. Venkataramani.
  • He was appointed on October 1, 2022, and is the 16th Attorney General of India.
  • He is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India and has been practicing law for over 30 years.
  • He is known for his expertise in constitutional law, taxation law, and arbitration law.

List of Attorney General of India


Attorney General of India Name of the Attorney General Tenure
1st Attorney General M.C. Setalvad 28 January 1950 – 1 March 1963
2nd Attorney General C.K. Daftari 2 March 1963 – 30 October 1968
3rd Attorney General Niren de 1 November 1968 – 31 March 1977
4th Attorney General S.V. Gupte 1 April 1977 – 8 August 1979
5th Attorney General L.N. Sinha 9 August 1979 – 8 August 1983
6th Attorney General K. Parasaran 9 August 1983 – 8 December 1989
7th Attorney General Soli Sorabjee 9 December 1989 – 2 December 1990
8th Attorney General J. Ramaswamy 3 December 1990 – November 23 1992
9th Attorney General Milon K. Banerji 21 November 1992 – 8 July 1996
10th Attorney General Ashok Desai 9 July 1996 – 6 April 1998
11th Attorney General Soli Sorabjee 7 April 1998 – 4 June 2004
12th Attorney General Milon K. Banerjee 5 June 2004 – 7 June 2009
13th Attorney General Goolam Essaji Vahanvati 8 June 2009 – 11 June 2014
14th Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi 12 June 2014 – 30 June 2017
15th Attorney General K.K. Venugopal 30 June  2017 – September 22, 2022

Who appoints Attorney General of India?


  • The Attorney General of India is appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Union Cabinet.
  • The qualifications for the post of Attorney General are as follows:
  1. He/she must be a citizen of India.
  2. He/she must have been a judge of a high court for at least five years or an advocate of a high court for at least ten years.
  3. He/she may be an eminent jurist in the opinion of the President.
  • The Attorney General is the chief legal advisor to the Government of India and represents the government in the Supreme Court and other courts.
  • He/she also performs other legal duties as assigned by the President.
  • The Attorney General holds office during the pleasure of the President, which means that he/she can be removed from office by the President at any time.

Term of Attorney General’s office


  • The Attorney General of India does not have a set term of office.
  • They are appointed by the President of India based on the recommendations of the Union Cabinet, as outlined in Article 76(1) of the Constitution.
  • Their tenure in office is contingent upon the pleasure of the President.
  • This means that the Attorney General can be removed by the President at any time, without giving any reason.
  • The Attorney General can also resign by submitting their resignation to the President.
  • The longest term served by an Attorney General of India is 13 years and 32 days, by Motilal Chimanlal Setalvad. He served from 1950 to 1963.
  • The shortest term served by an Attorney General is 24 days, by Ashok Desai. He served from 1989 to 1990.
  • In practice, the Attorney General usually serves for a term of 5 years or less.
  • This is because the government changes from time to time, and the new government may want to appoint its own Attorney General.
  • However, there have been cases where the Attorney General has served for longer periods, such as Niren De, who served for 8 years and 150 days.

Role of Attorney General of India


  • The Attorney General of India is the highest-ranking legal officer in the Indian government and serves as the chief legal advisor to the government of India.
  • Here are the key roles and responsibilities of the Attorney General of India:

Legal Advisor to the Government:

  • The Attorney General of India provides legal advice to the President of India, the Council of Ministers, and various government ministries and departments on a wide range of legal issues.
  • This advice is crucial in ensuring that the government’s actions and policies conform to the Indian Constitution and are in compliance with the law.

Representation in Courts:

  • The Attorney General represents the Government of India in the Supreme Court of India and in any other legal proceedings in which the government is a party or has an interest.
  • This includes defending the government’s position in court cases and advocating for its interests.

Initiating and Defending Lawsuits:

  • The Attorney General has the authority to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of the government and also to defend the government in lawsuits filed against it.
  • This is a significant responsibility in ensuring that the government’s legal interests are protected.

Contempt of Court:

  • The Attorney General can grant consent for the initiation of contempt of court proceedings in cases where contemptuous behavior is alleged against individuals or entities.

Special Counsel:

  • The Attorney General can appoint Special Counsel to represent the government in specific cases or matters that require specialized legal expertise.

Constitutional Interpretation:

  • The Attorney General plays a crucial role in the interpretation of the Indian Constitution.
  • They are often consulted on constitutional matters, and their legal opinions can influence government decisions and policies.

Advising on Legislation:

  • The Attorney General provides legal input and advice on proposed legislation, helping to ensure that new laws are in line with the Constitution and existing legal frameworks.

Legal Research and Opinion:

  • The Attorney General’s office conducts legal research and provides legal opinions on various issues as requested by the government.

Public Interest Litigation (PIL):

  • The Attorney General can intervene or express views on public interest litigation cases that have a significant impact on the public or the government.

Other Duties:

  • The Attorney General may have other duties and responsibilities as prescribed by the government or as required by specific laws.
  • The Attorney General of India is a vital figure in upholding the rule of law, protecting the government’s legal interests, and ensuring that the government’s actions are carried out within the bounds of the Indian Constitution and the law.

Limitations on the Attorney General of India


  • The Attorney General of India is the chief legal advisor to the Government of India and holds a significant position in the Indian legal system.
  • However, there are several limitations on the Attorney General’s role and powers:

Political Neutrality:

  • The Attorney General is expected to maintain political neutrality and not engage in partisan politics.
  • They should not hold any other office of profit or engage in any other form of employment or business.

Advisory Role:

  • The primary role of the Attorney General is to provide legal advice to the government.
  • They do not have executive authority and cannot make policy decisions. Their advice is not binding on the government.

Limited Court Representation:

  • While the Attorney General has the right to represent the government in important cases, they cannot appear in all legal matters on behalf of the government.
  • The government can engage private lawyers or other law officers for various cases.

Conflict of Interest:

  • The Attorney General must avoid conflicts of interest and cannot represent private clients or individuals against the government.
  • They should prioritize the interests of the state.

Independence of the Judiciary:

  • The Attorney General, like any other lawyer, must respect the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
  • They cannot interfere in the functioning of the judiciary or attempt to influence judicial decisions.

Non-Voting Member of Parliament:

  • If the Attorney General is a member of either house of Parliament, they have the right to speak and take part in the proceedings but cannot vote.

Conclusion


  • In conclusion, the Attorney General of India is a vitally important figure in the Indian legal system.
  • He or she is the highest law officer in the country and is responsible for providing legal advice to the government, representing the government in court, and safeguarding the interests of the people of India.
  • The Attorney General is appointed by the President of India and holds office during the pleasure of the President.
  • He or she must be a qualified jurist with the experience and skills necessary to perform the demanding duties of the office.
  • The Attorney General has a wide range of powers and responsibilities.
  • He or she can be called upon to advise the government on any legal matter, from drafting legislation to defending the government in court.
  • The Attorney General also has the power to initiate prosecutions and to appear in court on behalf of the government.
  • The Attorney General is a non-partisan figure who is not a member of the government.
  • He or she is independent of the government and is not subject to its control.
  • This independence is essential to ensure that the Attorney General can provide impartial legal advice and represent the government effectively in court.

The Attorney General of India is appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Union Cabinet.

  • The current Attorney General of India is R. Venkataramani, who was appointed on October 1, 2022. He is the 16th Attorney General of India.
  • The Attorney General is the highest law officer of the Union of India and is responsible for providing legal advice to the government. He/she also represents the government in the Supreme Court and other courts. The Attorney General is a constitutional office and is independent of the government. However, he/she is expected to uphold the government's policies and decisions.

 

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