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Office of the Attorney General and its r

  Aug 31, 2020

Office of the Attorney General and its role in contempt cases.

Q. Why is this in news?

A. Senior advocates of Supreme Court recently expressed concern over Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal not being heard in detail during the Prashant Bhushan contempt-of-court hearings in the Supreme Court.

Q. What is the case for prior approval in Contempt Cases?

  • The prior consent in writing of the Attorney General is required for the Supreme Court to initiate criminal contempt action in a case account to the Contempt of Court Act, 1971.
  • AGI consent in a form of check on the suo-motu power of criminal contempt.

Q. What is office of Attorney General of India (AGI)?

  • Attorney General is appointed by the President of India on the advice of Union Cabinet under Article 76(1) of the Constitution and holds office during the pleasure of the President.
  • The AGI is the Indian government’s chief legal advisor and is a primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.
  • They can be said to be the advocate from the government’s side.
  • They must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court ( i.e. a judge of some high court for five years or an advocate of some high court for ten years or an eminent jurist, in the opinion of the President and must be a citizen of India.)

Q. What are its functions and duties?

  • The AGI is necessary for advising the Government of India on legal matters referred to them.
  • They also perform other legal duties assigned to them by the President.
  • The AGI has the right of audience in all Courts in India as well as the right to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament, though not to vote.
  • The AGI appears on behalf of Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which government is concerned.
  • They also represent the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
  • The Attorney General is assisted by a Solicitor General and four Additional Solicitors General.

Q. What are its powers?

  • The AG can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government.
  • They cannot defend an accused in the criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.
  • The AG is to be consulted only in legal matters of real importance and only after the Ministry of Law has been consulted.
  • All references to the AG are made by the Law Ministry.

Q. What are its limitations?

Attorney general :

  • should not advise or hold a brief against the Government of India
  • should not defend accused persons in criminal cases without the permission of the government of India
  • should not accept appointment as a director in any company without the permission of the government

Q. What is Global precedence?

  • Unlike the Attorney General of the United States, the AGI in India does not have any executive authority.
  • Those functions are performed by the Law Minister of India.
  • Also, the AG is not a government servant and is not debarred from private legal practice in India.