Attorney-General for India


The Attorney General for India is the Indian government's chief legal advisor, and is its principal Advocate before the Supreme Court of India. They are appointed by the President of India on the advice of the Union Cabinet under Article 76(1) of the Constitution and hold office during the pleasure of the President. They must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court. Hence, they 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.

Attorney General for India
भारत के महान्यायवादी
Emblem of India.svg
TypeJudiciary of India
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
SeatA-144, Neeti Bagh, New Delhi-110049[1]
AppointerPresident of India
on advice of the Union Cabinet
Term lengthPer the President's discretion
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 reappointed by President Ram Nath Kovind in 2020. He began his service on 30 June 2017.[2][3]

Powers, duties and functionsEdit

The attorney general 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 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. They also represent 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 of India has no 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. They 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 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 payableEdit

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 work Rates 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 applications ₹5,000/- per 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 Rs. 4,000 per month, except during the period of his leave.

Politicisation of the Attorney GeneralEdit

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.[citation needed]

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 IndiaEdit

The attorneys general for India since independence are listed below:[13]

Sl No. Attorney General Term Incumbent Prime Minister
1 M. C. Setalvad 28 January 1950 – 1 March 1963 Jawaharlal Nehru
2 C. K. Daphtary 2 March 1963 – 30 October 1968 Jawaharlal Nehru; Lal Bahadur Shastri
3 Niren De 1 November 1968 – 31 March 1977 Indira Gandhi
4 S. V. Gupte 1 April 1977 – 8 August 1979 Morarji Desai
5 L. N. Sinha 9 August 1979 – 8 August 1983 Charan Singh; Indira Gandhi
6 K. Parasaran 9 August 1983 – 8 December 1989 Indira Gandhi; Rajiv Gandhi
7 Soli Sorabjee 9 December 1989 – 2 December 1990 V. P. Singh; Chandra Shekhar
8 G. Ramaswamy 3 December 1990 – 23 November 1992 Chandra Shekhar; P. V. Narasimha Rao
9 Milon K. Banerji 21 November 1992 – 8 July 1996 P. V. Narasimha Rao
10 Ashok Desai 9 July 1996 – 6 April 1998 H. D. Devegowda; Inder Kumar Gujral
(7) Soli Sorabjee 7 April 1998 – 4 June 2004 Atal Bihari Vajpayee
11 Milon K. Banerji 5 June 2004 – 7 June 2009 Manmohan Singh
12 Goolam Essaji Vahanvati 8 June 2009 – 11 June 2014 Manmohan Singh
13 Mukul Rohatgi 19 June 2014 – 18 June 2017[14] Narendra Modi
14 K. K. Venugopal 1 July 2017 – (incumbent) Narendra 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. ^ a b "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. ^ a b "Milon Banerjee has devalued his position: BJP". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 4 May 2009.
  7. ^ "The govt's found a new foe in the Supreme Court".
  8. ^[bare URL]
  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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)