The Attorney General of India is known as the highest law officer in the country as mentioned in Article 76 (under Part-V) of the Constitution of India, 1950. He is the chief legal advisor to the Indian Government and assists the Government in all legal affairs as an Advocate General of a state. The Union Government is also represented in the Supreme Court of India by The Attorney General of India. The post of Attorney General of India is a Constitutional post. The office of the Attorney General is the part of Union Executive. However, he is not a member of the Union Cabinet. He can be a part of any court in the Territory of India.
Who is the Current Attorney General of India?
R. Venkataramani is the 16th and present Attorney General of India. He was appointed on 1st October 2022 and his predecessor was K.K Venugopal who was reappointed by President Ram Nath Kovind in 2020. The first Attorney General of India was Motilal C. Setalvad.
In this article, we’ll explore the role and responsibilities of the Attorney General of India. This highest law officer holds a crucial position within the Indian legal system, providing invaluable legal advice and support to the government. Let’s delve into the details of this Constitutional post and its significance in India’s legal landscape.
Who Appoints India’s Attorney General?
The President of India appoints the Attorney General of India on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers. To be appointed as the Attorney General of India, an individual must be qualified to be a judge of the Supreme Court, that is they must either be a judge of a High Court for 5 years or an advocate in a High Court for 10 years or an eminent jurist in the President’s opinion.
The Attorney General of India is not excluded from private legal practice, since he is not a full-time counsel for the Government and does not fall in the category of Government Servants. Two additional non-statutory and non-constitutional posts are created to assist the Attorney General in discharging his official responsibilities – Solicitor General and Additional Solicitor General.
Responsibilities and Functions of Attorney General
The Responsibilities and Functions of Attorney General is shown below:
- Providing legal advice to the Government of India (GoI) on matters referred to them by the President.
- Carrying out additional legal duties as designated by the President.
- Serving as the GoI’s legal representative in all cases before the Supreme Court and any relevant High Courts.
- Representing the GoI in cases referred by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 (Power of the President to consult the Supreme Court) of the Constitution.
- Executing the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Constitution or any other applicable laws.
What is the term of the Attorney General’s office?
The Indian Constitution does not provide any fixed occupancy to the Attorney General of India, so it holds office as per the pleasure of the president. The president can remove the Attorney General at any time since no procedure or ground is laid within the Constitution for its removal. Moreover, the remuneration is also not fixed by the Constitution. He shall receive such remuneration as the President may determine. Additionally, he may also quit his office by submitting his resignation to the President. Usually, he resigns when the government (Council of Ministers) is replaced or resigns, as he is appointed on its advice. After ceasing to hold office, the Attorney General is eligible or can be reappointed for any other government appointments.
Roles of the Attorney General of India
The Roles of the Attorney General of India is shown below:
- The Attorney General advises the Central Government on all legal matters since he is the highest law officer in the country.
- He is bound to perform such other duties of a legal character, as may from time to time be referred to him by the President.
- Within the performance of his duties, the Attorney General shall have the right of audience in all courts in the Territory of India.
- He has to discharge the functions conferred on him by the Constitution or any other law.
- To appear on behalf of the Government of India in various courts of India (SC/HC).
- To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
Limitations of the Attorney General of India
The Attorney General of India, while holding a crucial position in the legal system, faces certain limitations. Firstly, the office is inherently political, as the Attorney General is appointed by the President on the advice of the government. This political alignment may compromise the perceived independence of legal advice provided. Here we discussed below the limitations of Attorney General of India.
- He is barred from advising or holding a brief against the Union Government.
- He should not advise or hold a brief in cases in which he is summoned to appear for the Government of India.
- In criminal prosecutions, he should not defend the accused persons without the permission of the Government of India.
- He can attend and speak in both the Houses of Parliament or their joint sitting of the Constitution but he has no right to vote.
- Without the permission of the Government of India, he should not accept an appointment as a director in any company or corporation.
- He should not advise any ministry without the reference of the law ministry but if the Central Government finds it necessary to relax these provisions then it can do so.
The Attorney General is a friend, philosopher, and guide. But primarily, he is the highest law officer in the country. Historically, the role of an Attorney General has set a pitch for the direction of Indian Democracy and furthers the essence and spirit of the Constitution. Mr Setalvad believed that “we have in truth, not the supremacy of the courts but the supremacy of the Constitution”. He emphasized the independent and non-political nature of the position.
Questions and Answers On Attorney General of India
1. Who is the Attorney General of India in 2023?
As of 2023, the Attorney General of India is Kottayan Katankot (K.K.) Venugopal, serving as the 15th Attorney General of India.
2. What is the role of the Attorney General of India?
The Attorney General serves as the highest law officer in India, offering legal advice to the Indian Government, representing the Union Government in the Supreme Court, and performing various legal duties as mandated by the Constitution.
3. How is the Attorney General of India appointed?
The President of India appoints the Attorney General on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers. To be eligible, the individual must meet specific qualifications, such as being a judge of a High Court for at least five years or an advocate in a High Court for ten years.
4. What is the term of the Attorney General’s office?
The Attorney General of India does not have a fixed term. They serve at the pleasure of the President, and their remuneration is determined by the President. They can also resign from their position.
5. What are the main responsibilities of the Attorney General?
The Attorney General advises the Central Government on legal matters, has the right to appear in all Indian courts, and represents the Government of India in various legal proceedings, including those in the Supreme Court.
6. Are there any limitations on the Attorney General’s role?
Yes, there are limitations. For example, the Attorney General cannot advise or represent clients against the Union Government, defend accused individuals in criminal cases without government permission, and cannot vote in parliamentary proceedings.
7. Can the Attorney General of India hold a private legal practice?
Yes, the Attorney General is not excluded from private legal practice, as they are not full-time government employees. They can engage in private legal practice alongside their official duties.
8. Can the Attorney General be reappointed after leaving office?
Yes, the Attorney General is eligible for reappointment to other government positions after leaving office. Their appointment is usually based on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
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