Attorney General of India (AGI)

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Attorney General of India (AGI)
Attorney General of India (AGI)

The Attorney General of India (AGI), a constitutional body, stands as a pillar of the country’s legal system. As the Chief Legal Advisor to the Union Government, he/she plays a pivotal role in shaping the legal landscape of the nation. This article of NEXT IAS aims to study in detail the Attorney General of India (AGI), including its constitutional mandate, composition, powers, functions, limitations faced, and other related aspects.

  • The Constitution of India has established the office of the Attorney General of India (AGI) as the highest law officer in the country.
    • Since it is established directly under the provisions of the Constitution, it is a Constitutional Body.
  • The Attorney General of India is the Chief Legal Advisor to the Union Government and advises it on all legal matters.
  • The Attorney General is also the primary lawyer of the Central government and is i\ts legal representative in the Supreme Court of India and High Courts.
  • The Attorney General of India (AGI) is a part of the Union Executive.
    • The Union Executive consists of:
      • The President,
      • The Vice-President,
      • The Prime Minister,
      • The Council of Ministers (CoM), and
      • The Attorney General of India (AGI).
    • It is to be noted that the Attorney General of India (AGI) is not a member of the Central Cabinet. There is a separate Law Minister to look after legal matters at the government level.
As per the Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1987, the Headquarters of the Attorney General of India (AGI) shall be in New Delhi.
Attorney General of India (AGI)

Prominent constitutional provisions dealing with the Attorney General (AG) of India can be seen as follows:

ArticlesSubject-Matter
Article 76Attorney-General of India
Article 88Rights of the Attorney-General with respect to the Houses of Parliament and its Committees
Article 105Powers, privileges, and immunities of Attorney-General

The Attorney General of India is appointed by the President of India.

  • To be appointed as the Attorney General of India (AGI), a person should be eligible to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. Thus, he/she
    • Must be a citizen of India, and
    • Must have been a judge of a High Court for 5 years; OR an advocate of a High Court for 10 years; OR a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President of India.

The term of office of the Attorney General is not fixed by the Constitution.

  • The Constitution does not contain the procedure and grounds for the removal of the Attorney General.
  • He holds office during the pleasure of the President.
    • Thus, he/she may be removed by the President at any time.
  • The Attorney General may quit his office by submitting his resignation to the President of India.
    • It has been a convention that he/she resigns when the government (Council of Ministers) resigns or is replaced, as he is appointed on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • The remuneration of the Attorney General is not fixed by the Constitution.
    • He receives such remuneration as determined by the President.

In the capacity of the Chief Law Officer of the Government of India, the Attorney General of India has to perform the following duties:

  • To advise the Government of India upon such legal matters, which are referred to him by the President.
  • To perform such other duties of a legal character that are assigned to him by the President.
  • To discharge the functions conferred on him by the Constitution or any other law.

Additionally, the President of India has assigned the following duties to the Attorney General of India (AGI):

  • 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.

The Attorney General of India has the following rights:

  • He/she has the ‘Right of Audience’ in all courts in the territory of India in the performance of his/her official duties.
  • He/she has the ‘Right to Speak’ and to ‘Take part in the Proceedings’ of both the Houses of Parliament or their joint sitting and any committee of the Parliament of which he may be named a member but without a right to vote.
  • He enjoys all the privileges and immunities that are available to a Member of Parliament.

In order to avoid any conflict of duty or any complications therein, the following limitations are placed on the Attorney General of India (AGI):

  • He should not advise or hold a brief against the Government of India.
  • He should not advise or hold a brief in cases in which he is called upon to advise or appear for the Government of India.
  • He should not defend accused persons in criminal prosecutions without the permission of the Government of India.
  • He should not accept an appointment as a Director in any company or corporation without the permission of the Government of India.
  • He should not advise any Ministry or Department of the Government of India or any Statutory Organization or any Public Sector Undertaking unless the proposal or a reference in this regard is received through the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs.
Note: The Attorney General is not a full-time counsel for the Government of India. He does not fall into the category of Government Servants. Further, he is not debarred from the private legal practice.
  • The Solicitor General is the ‘second highest law officer’ in the country after the Attorney General of India.
  • The Attorney General is assisted by the Solicitor General of India and several Additional Solicitors General of India for the fulfillment of his official responsibilities.
  • The Solicitor General and the Additional Solicitors General of India also advise the Union Government and appear on behalf of the Union of India in the Supreme Court and High Courts.
Note: The Constitution of India does not mention the offices of the Solicitor General of India and Additional Solicitors General of India. Thus, these posts are statutory, and not constitutional.

In conclusion, the Attorney General of India serves as a vital pillar of the nation’s legal framework, upholding the rule of law and ensuring the effective functioning of the Union Government in legal matters. As an indispensable figure in India’s legal landscape, the Attorney General plays a pivotal role in advancing justice, upholding the Constitution, and ensuring the fair administration of law in the nation.

Who appoints Attorney General of India?

The President of India appoints Attorney General of India.

Who was the first Attorney General of India?

The first Attorney General of India was Motilal Chimanlal Setalvad.

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