Updated November 10, 2022
The Attorney General of India is the chief legal advisor to Govt. of India and, the highest law officer of country. He works as the Principal Advocate of Government before the Supreme Court. On the advice of the Union Cabinet under Article 76(1) of the Constitution, the President of India appoints Attorney General. The A.G. counsels the Government on legal issues. Mr. K.K. Venugopal is the 15th Attorney General, with M.C. Stelvad being the first.
To date, 15 people in India have served as attorney general (AG). The 1st Attorney General was M.C. Setalvad, and the current is K. K. Venugopal. He was appointed as attorney general on 30th June 2017 by the President of India. Keeping in mind Venugopal’s advanced age of 90, President Ram Nath Kovind re-appointed him in 2020.
Who is an Attorney General as Per Constitution?
Under Part-V of the Indian Constitution, Article 76 describes the attorney general as the highest law officer of India. Enjoying the designation of chief legal advisor to the government of India, they advise the union government on all legal matters.
They are also the principal Advocates to the Indian government before the Supreme Court of India. Unlike an Advocate General of a State, the Attorney General is not considered to be a political appointee, abstractly, but practically it is not so.
To be assigned as Attorney General of India, one must be qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court. In simple words, one must have been in service for five years as a judge or for ten years as an advocate of any high court. Also, If the person is an eminent jurist in the opinion of the President, he can be appointed as attorney general for India.
Article 76 of Constitution: Appointing Attorney General
Under Part -V of the Indian Constitution, Article 76 deals with the office of the Attorney General of India. Let’s have a look over the provisions provided by Article 76 of the Indian Constitution.
76 (1): The President shall appoint a person who is qualified to be assigned a Judge of the Supreme Court to be Attorney General for India
76(2): 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, and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other law for the time being in force
76(3): In the performance of his duties, the Attorney General shall have the right of audience in all courts in the territory of India
76(4): The Attorney General shall hold office during the pleasure of the President and shall receive such remuneration as the President may determine Conduct of Government Business
List of Attorney Generals in India
Till the date, 15 people in India have served as attorney general. Followings are listed below.
- First Attorney General- Name (M.C. Setalvad), Tenure (28th January 1950 – 1st March 1963)
- Second Attorney General- Name (C.K. Daftari), Tenure (2 March 1963 – 30 October 1968)
- Third Attorney General- Name (Niren de), Tenure (1 November 1968 – 31 March 1977)
- Fourth Attorney General- Name (S.V. Gupte), Tenure (1 April 1977 – 8 August 1979)
- Fifth Attorney General- Name (L.N. Sinha), Tenure (9 August 1979 – 8 August 1983)
- Sixth Attorney General- Name (K. Parasaran), Tenure (9 August 1983 – 8 December 1989)
- Seventh Attorney General- Name (Soli Sorabjee), Tenure (9 December 1989 – 2 December 1990)
- Eighth Attorney General- Name (J. Ramaswamy), Tenure (3 December 1990 – November 23 1992)
- Ninth Attorney General- Name (Milon K. Banerji), Tenure (21 November 1992 – 8 July 1996)
- Tenth Attorney General- Name (Ashok Desai), Tenure (9 July 1996 – 6 April 1998)
- Eleventh Attorney General- Name (Soli Sorabjee), Tenure (7 April 1998 – 4 June 2004)
- Twelfth Attorney General- Name (Milon K. Banerjee), Tenure (5 June 2004 – 7 June 2009)
- Thirteenth Attorney General- Name (Goolam Essaji Vahanvati), Tenure (8 June 2009 – 11 June 2014)
- Fourteenth Attorney General- Name (Mukul Rohatgi), Tenure (12 June 2014 – 30 June 2017)
- Fifteenth Attorney General- Name (K.K. Venugopal), Tenure (30 June 2017 till date)
Who appoints Attorney General of India?
On the advice of the Union Cabinet under Article 76(1) of the Constitution, the President of India appoints the person who is eligible to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court as attorney general. The qualifications which are listed below are the prerequisites for one to be appointed as Attorney General.
- He/she should be a Citizen of India.
- He/she must have served for five years as a judge in a High Court of any Indian state or for ten years as an advocate in a High Court of any Indian state.
- In the eye of the President, he/she should be an eminent jurist too.
What is the Tenure of Attorney General?
Although there is no specific description in the Indian constitution about the tenure of Attorney General, they usually have the term of three years. Just like the constitution mentions no specified tenure of Attorney General similarly, it also does not mention the procedure and basis of their termination. Here are some facts about the term his office:
- The President can terminate them at any time.
- By submitting their resignation only to the President, he/she can give up the position.
- Since, the attorney general is appointed by the President on the advice of Union Cabinet, conventionally he/she is terminated from his designation when the cabinet is dissolved or replaced.
What are The Roles of AGs?
Enjoying the designation of the Chief Law Officer of the country, there are certain duties, Attorney General of India has to perform.
- They advise the Union government upon the same legal matter which is sent him by the President.
- The President keeps referring the legal matters to the attorney general, and they are liable to advise the President even on those legal matters that suit their interest.
- They are not liable only to perform what President refers them but also to the duties mentioned in the Constitution.
The President assigns them three duties, and these are:
- The Attorney General is a primary lawyer to the Indian government and has to represent it in Supreme Court on its behalf in any legal case related to it.
- Under Article 143 of the Constitution, the attorney general has to represent the Union Government in Supreme Court with regards to any reference made by the President.
- He/she is a principal advocate to the Indian government, so he also has to appear in the High Court for the case related to the Government of India.
What are the Limitations on Them?
There are some limitations too that are imposed on the attorney general, which they have to keep in mind while performing their duties to avoid conflict of duty, and these are the following.
- He/she has not to give advice or brief information against the Government of India.
- They have not to give advice or brief information in matters in which they are called upon to advise or to appear for the Government of India.
- Without the permission of the Indian Government, he has to not defend accused persons in criminal prosecutions.
- Accepting the appointment as a director in any company or corporation without the permission of the Indian Government is restricted to them.
Questions Mostly Asked about Attorney General (AG)- FAQs
Ans- The President of India appoints the Attorney General on the advice of the union cabinet (council of ministers).
Ans- The 15th and current Attorney General of India is K. K. Venugopal. He was reappointed as attorney general on 1st of July 2020 by the president of India. Keeping in mind his advance age of 90, President Ram Nath Kovind re-appointed him in 2020.
Ans- Under Part-V of Indian constitution, Article 76 deals with the office of Attorney General of India.
Ans- Advocate General of the State is the highest law officer in the state. Article 165of the Constitution of India has provided for the office of the Advocate General for the states and also, he is parallel to the Attorney General of India.
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