Attorney General of India

The Attorney General for India is the Indian government's chief legal advisor, and is primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India. He can be said to be the advocate from government's side. He is appointed by the President of India on advice of Union Cabinet under Article 76(1) of the Constitution and holds office during the pleasure of the President. He must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court (He must have been 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.)

Attorney General for India
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
SeatN-234-A, Greater Kailash-I, New Delhi[1]
AppointerPresident of India
on advice of the Union Cabinet
Term lengthUpto the pleasure of The President
Constituting instrumentArticle 76 of the Constitution
Formation28 January 1950
First holderM. C. Setalvad
DeputySolicitor General of India
Additional Solicitors General of India

The 15th and current Attorney General is K. K. Venugopal. He was appointed by Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India at that time. He was formally appointed as with effect from 30 June 2017[1] and shall have a tenure of 3 years.[2][3]

Powers, duties and functions

The Attorney General is necessary for giving advice to the Government of India in legal matters referred to him. He also performs other legal duties assigned to him by the President. The Attorney General 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.[4] The Attorney General appears on behalf of Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which Government of India is concerned. He also represents the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.

Unlike the Attorney General of the United States, the Attorney General for 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.

The Attorney General can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government. He cannot defend an accused in the criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.

The Attorney General is assisted by a Solicitor General and four additional Solicitors General.[4] The Attorney General 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 Attorney General are made by the Law Ministry.

Fee and allowances payable

Fee and allowances payable to the law officers (including Attorney General for India, Solicitor General of India and the Additional Solicitors General) of the Government of India are as under:[5]

S.No.Nomenclature of the item of workRates of fees payable for appearance and other work
(1)Suits, writ petitions, appeals and references under article 143₹16,000/- per case per day
(2)Special leave petitions and other applicationsper case per day
(3)Settling pleadings (including affidavits)₹5,000/- per pleading
(4)Settling Statement of Case₹6,000/- per case
(5)For giving opinions in statements of cases sent by the Ministry of Law₹10,000/- per case
(6)For written submission before the Supreme Court, High Court, and Commissions of Inquiry or Tribunals and the like₹10,000/- per case
(7)Appearance in Courts outside Delhi₹40,000/- per day per case

In addition to the above fee payable for cases, a retainer fee is paid to the Attorney General for India, Solicitor General of India and the Additional Solicitors General at the rate of ₹50,000, ₹40,000 and ₹30,000 per month, respectively. Moreover, the Attorney General for India is also paid a sumptuary allowance of ₹4,000 per month, except during the period of his leave.

Politicisation of the Attorney General

It has become a tradition that the Attorney General resigns when a new government is formed. The Attorney General is selected by the Government and acts as its advocate, and hence is not a neutral person. Nevertheless, it is a constitutional authority, and his or her opinions are subject to public scrutiny. On several occasions however, the opinions pursued by the Attorney General appear to have been extremely politicised.[6]

During some of the AG tenures, it has been felt that the attorney general has gone too far. Niren De during Indira Gandhi replied to a question by Hans Raj Khanna stating that even the right to life can be suspended during emergency.

Similarly, in 2005, when the UPA government was planning a possible coalition with Mayawati, Milon K. Banerjee's opinion absolving Mayawati in the Taj corridor case was ignored by the Supreme Court.[7] In a direct condemnation of the government which asked the CBI to heed attorney general Milon Banerjee's opinion and close the case against Mayawati, the Supreme Court told the agency not to go solely on the AG's opinion and place all evidence before it.[8]

In 2009, Milon K. Banerjee's opinion absolving Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors scandal has also been viewed as "devaluing and eroding the Attorney General's position".[6]

During the UPA-II government (2009–2014), the conduct of Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati was criticised in a number of cases. In 2G spectrum case, he became the first Attorney General in India's history who had to testify as a witness in a corruption case in a trial court.[9][10] In late April 2013, in coal-gate scandal, Vahanvati was accused of misrepresenting facts in the top-most court of India.[11] Again in the same case, Vahanvati's role came under scrutiny after allegations of impropriety and coercion emerged from his junior law officer, Harin P. Raval, who resigned from the post of Additional Solicitor General as a result.[12]

List of Attorneys General for India

The Attorneys General for India since independence are listed below:[13]

Attorney General Term Incumbent Prime Minister
M. C. Setalvad28 January 1950 – 1 March 1963Jawaharlal Nehru
C. K. Daphtary2 March 1963 – 30 October 1968Jawaharlal Nehru; Lal Bahadur Shastri
Niren De1 November 1968 – 31 March 1977Indira Gandhi
S. V. Gupte1 April 1977 – 8 August 1979Morarji Desai
L. N. Sinha9 August 1979 – 8 August 1983Indira Gandhi
K. Parasaran9 August 1983 – 8 December 1989Indira Gandhi; Rajiv Gandhi
Soli Sorabjee9 December 1989 – 2 December 1990V. P. Singh; Chandra Shekhar
G. Ramaswamy3 December 1990 – 23 November 1992Chandra Shekhar; P. V. Narasimha Rao
Milon K. Banerji21 November 1992 – 8 July 1996P. V. Narasimha Rao
Ashok Desai9 July 1996 – 6 April 1998H. D. Devegowda; Inder Kumar Gujral
Soli Sorabjee7 April 1998 – 4 June 2004Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Milon K. Banerji5 June 2004 – 7 June 2009Manmohan Singh
Goolam Essaji Vahanvati8 June 2009 – 11 June 2014Manmohan Singh
Mukul Rohatgi19 June 2014 – 18 June 2017[14]Narendra Modi
K. K. Venugopal1 July 2017 – presentNarendra Modi


  1. "LIST OF LAW OFFICERS". Ministry of Law and Justice. Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  2. "List of Law Officers of Government of India". Archived from the original on 9 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  3. "Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi is new Attorney General". Zee News. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  4. "Supreme Court of India – CONSTITUTION". Supreme Court of India. Archived from the original on 30 August 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  5. "Fee and allowances payable to law officers" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  6. "Milon Banerjee has devalued his position: BJP". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 30 April 2009.
  9. Kaushik, Krishn (1 May 2013). "Inside Man – The convenient opinions of Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati". The Caravan. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  10. "AG deposes in 2G case, Raja calls him liar". 28 February 2013. Archived from the original on 30 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  11. , coal-gate-attorney-general-misrepresented-facts-to-supreme-court-says-letter-bomb NDTV news report.
  12. Bhatt, Abhinav (30 April 2013). "Harin Raval resigns as Additional Solicitor General after Coal-Gate letter bomb". NDTV. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  13. Attorney General for Independent India Archived 25 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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