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Attorney General Of India

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  • Last Updated : 16 Jun, 2022

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. K.K.(Kottayan Katankot) Venugopal is the 15th and present Attorney General of India. He was first appointed in 2017 after which President Ram Nath Kovind reappointed him in 2020. The 1st Attorney General was Motilal C. Setalvad.

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.

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.

Role of the Attorney General of India:

  1. The Attorney General advises the Central Government on all legal matters since he is the highest law officer in the country.
  2. 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.
  3. Within the performance of his duties, the Attorney General shall have the right of audience in all courts in the Territory of India.
  4. He has to discharge the functions conferred on him by the Constitution or any other law.
  5. To appear on behalf of the Government of India in various courts of India (SC/HC).
  6. 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:

  1. He is barred from advising or holding a brief against the Union Government.
  2. He should not advise or hold a brief in cases in which he is summoned to appear for the Government of India.
  3. In criminal prosecutions, he should not defend the accused persons without the permission of the Government of India.
  4. 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.
  5. Without the permission of the Government of India, he should not accept an appointment as a director in any company or corporation.
  6. 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.

To conclude, 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.

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