Appointment and Term
The Attorney General for India is the Indian Government’s chief legal advisor, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India. He is appointed by the President of India 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, also 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.
The term of office of the Attorney General is not fixed by the Constitution. Further, the Constitution does not contain the procedure and grounds for his removal. He holds office during the pleasure of the Ppresident. This means that he may be removed by the President at any time.
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.
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 the 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, he 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. 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
Rights and Limitations
Article 76 envisages exclusively the provisions for the Attorney General. This Article has four clauses which collectively fulfill the provisions in respect to him.
Clause (1) of the Article prescribes that the Attorney General is appointed by the President and his qualification is equivalent to the qualification of a puisne Judge of the Supreme Court.
Clause (2) states his advisory duty to the Government of India.
Clause (3) speaks of his right to audience in all courts in India.
And, Clause (4) provides that his tenure of office is subject to pleasure of the President of India and his remuneration shall also be determined by the President.
The Attorney General is the first Law Officer of India. He is the Chief Legal Advisor to the Central Government and also acts as a lawyer in the Supreme Court on behalf of it.
He also represents to the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution. All references are made to the Attorney General by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.
The Solicitor General of India is below the Attorney General for India, who is the Indian government’s chief legal advisor, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.
The Solicitor General of India is appointed for the period of 3 years. The Solicitor General of India is the secondary law officer of the country, assists the Attorney General, and is himself assisted by several Additional Solicitors General of India.
Like the Attorney General for India, the Solicitor General and the Additional Solicitors General advise the Government and appear on behalf of the Union of India in terms of the Law Officers (Terms and Conditions) Rules, 1972.
However, unlike the post of Attorney General for India, which is a Constitutional post under Article 76 of the Constitution of India, the posts of the Solicitor General and the Additional Solicitors General are merely statutory.