Understanding the functioning of the Attorney General for India
Polity & Governance
29th Sep, 2022
Incumbent Attorney General, K KVenugopal:
- The term of the incumbent A-G, K KVenugopal, ends on September 30.
- He is 91 years old and on his third extension.
- Venugopal has conveyed to the government that in view of his advanced age, he would not be able to continue after the end of his current term.
One of the Supreme Courts’ senior Advocates, MukulRohatgi declined the government’s offer to be the Attorney General (A-G) for India after “second thoughts”.
Attorney General of India:
- The A-G is the Government of India’s first law officer and has the right of audience in all courts of the country.
- Eligibility: 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”.
- Term of Office: (No specified tenure) 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.”
- Duty: 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”.
- Removal: Holds office during President’s pleasure & can be removed by President at any time. No grounds for removal or procedure are mentioned in Constitution.
Articles Related to Attorney-General of India
- The Constitution of India under Article 76, has provided for the office of the Attorney General for India. He is the highest law officer in the country.
- 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.
- Article 105 of the constitution deals with the powers, privileges, and immunities of the Attorney General.
Duties and Functions:
As the chief law officer of the Government of India, the duties of the AG include the following:
- To give advice to the Government of India upon such legal matters, that are referred to him by the President.
- To perform such other duties of a legal character that is assigned to him by the president.
- To discharge the functions conferred on him by the Constitution or any other law.
The president has assigned the following duties to the AG:
- To appear on behalf of the Government of India in all cases in the Supreme Court in which the Government of India is concerned.
- To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the president to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
- To appear (when required by the Government of India) in any high court in any case in which the Government of India is concerned.
Special rights enjoyed by the Attorney General of India
- The attorney general enjoys the right of audience in any court of the country when concerned with his duties.
- He further enjoys all the immunities and special privileges available to an MP.
- He has the right to participate in the proceedings of both houses without the right to vote and can be designated as a member.
- The first two incumbents of the post were the legendary M C Setalvad and C K Daphtary.
- 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.