Solicitor General of India (SGI)

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Solicitor General of India (SGI)
Solicitor General of India (SGI)

The Solicitor General of India (SGI), a statutory body, stands as a pillar of the country’s legal system. As one of the prominent law officers of 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 Solicitor General of India (SGI), including its functions, limitations faced, and other related aspects.

  • 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 fulfilment 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.

As per the Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1987:

  • The Headquarters of the Solicitor General of India (SGI) shall be in New Delhi.
  • The Headquarters of the Additional Solicitors General shall be at New Delhi or Bombay or Calcutta or Madras or Allahabad as may be specified, from time to time, by the Government of India in the case of each Additional Solicitors General.

The Solicitor General is appointed after the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister clears their name for the same.

As per the Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1987:

  • A Law Officer shall hold office for a term of three years from the date on which he enters his office.
  • A person who has held or who holds office as a Law Officer shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be eligible for re-appointment to that office for a further term not exceeding three years.

The Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1987 lays out the duties of the Solicitor General of India and Additional Solicitors General of India as follows:

  • 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 Government of India.
  • To appear, whenever required, in the Supreme Court or any High Court on behalf of the Government of India in cases (including suits, writ petitions, appeals, and other proceedings) in which the Government of India is concerned as a party or is otherwise interested.
  • To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
  • To discharge such other functions as are conferred on a Law Officer by or under the Constitution or any other Law for the time being in force.

The limitations which are placed on the Solicitor General of India and Additional Solicitors General of India are as follows:

  • Not to hold briefs in any court for any party except the Government of India or the Government of a State or any University, Government School or College, Local Authority, Public Service Commission, Port Trust, Port Commissioners, Government-aided or Government-managed Hospitals, a Government Company as defined in section 2(45) of Companies Act, 2013, any corporation owned or controlled by the State, anybody or institution in which the Government has a preponderating interest.
  • Not to advise any party against the Government of India or a Public Sector Undertaking, or in cases in which he is likely to be called upon to advise, or appear for, the Government of India or a Public Sector Undertaking.
  • Not to defend an accused person in a criminal prosecution, without the permission of the Government of India.
  • Not to accept appointment to any office or in any company or corporation without the permission of the Government of India.
  • Not to advise any Ministry or Department of 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 Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

In conclusion, the Solicitor General of India and Additional Solicitors General of India serve as vital pillars of the nation’s legal framework, upholding the rule of law and ensuring the effective functioning of the Union Government in legal matters. As indispensable figures in India’s legal landscape, they play a pivotal role in advancing justice, upholding the Constitution, and ensuring the fair administration of law in the nation.

What is the difference between the Attorney General and Solicitor General?

The Attorney General is the Chief Legal Advisor for India. He is also the primary lawyer in dealing with the Supreme Court. The major difference between the Attorney General and the Solicitor General is that the Solicitor General of India assists the Attorney General of India, taking help from many other Solicitor Generals.

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