Solicitor General of India
#GS2 #Statutory, Various quasi-judicial bodies
Context: A delegation of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs recently met President Ram Nath Kovind and sought the removal of Tushar Mehta as the Solicitor General of India, on the grounds of “criminal misconduct” and “gross impropriety” following his meeting with BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari.
What’s the ongoing issue?
- The Solicitor General of India is the second highest law officer of the country and advises Government of India and its various organs and in crucial legal matters such as Narada and Sarada cases.
- Suvendu Adhikari is an accused in the 2016 Narada tapes case.
- Experts says, such a meeting between an accused in grave offences, with the learned Solicitor General who is advising such investigation agencies (CBI) and representing the CBI in the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court in the agency’s probe against senior TMC leaders in the matter is in direct conflict of interest with the statutory duties of learned Solicitor General of India and raises extremely serious doubts of impropriety.
- Also, Such meetings make a mockery of the criminal justice system and would only serve to destroy the common man’s faith in the judiciary.
The office of Solicitor General:
- The Solicitor General of India is subordinate to the Attorney General for India.
- They are the second law officer of the country, assists the Attorney General, and is assisted by Additional Solicitors General for India.
- He also advises the government in legal matters.
- Solicitor general is appointed for period of three years by Appointment Committee of Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister.
- 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.
Duties of Solicitor General are laid out in Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules, 1987:
- 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 Government of India.
- To appear, whenever required, in the Supreme Court or in any High Court on behalf of the Government of India in cases (including suits, writ petitions, appeal and other proceedings) in which the Government of India is concerned as a party or is otherwise interested;
- To represent the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution; and
- To discharge such other functions as are conferred on a Law Officer by or under the Constitution or any other Law for the time being in force.
As law officers represent the Government of India, there are certain restrictions which are put on their private practice. A law officer is not allowed to:
- Hold briefs in any court for any party except the Government of India or the government of a State.
- Advice any party against the Government of India or a Public Sector Undertaking, or in cases in which he is likely to be called upon to advise, or appear for, the Government of India or a Public Sector Undertaking;
- Defend an accused person in a criminal prosecution, without the permission of the Government of India; or
- Accept appointment to any office in any company or corporation without the permission of the Government of India;
- Advise any Ministry or Department of Government of India or any statutory organisation.