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AG Mukul Rohtagi Seeks To Bypass Law Ministry While Advising Other Ministries

File photo of Mukul Rohtagi talking to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Image: PTI

New Delhi: Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has urged the government to scrap a rule which bars him from giving legal advice to other ministries without routing it through the law ministry.

Rohatgi said the rule needs to be scrapped as it only leads to delayed decision-making on important matters.

According to Rule 8(e) of the Law Officers (Condition of Services) Rules, 1972, it is laid down that a law officer shall not advise any ministry or department of Government of India or any statutory organization or any Public Sector Undertaking unless the proposal or a reference is received through the Ministry of Law and Justice.

In a letter to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, copies of which have been forwarded to Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Rohatgi said various ministries, departments and even ministers have declined to route their requests for his legal opinion through the Law Ministry due to urgency of the matter.

Rohatgi even quoted the Constitution to justify his demand and stated that this rule which requires law officers to give legal opinion to various central ministries and departments only when the issue is referred to them by the Law Ministry “runs contrary to Article 76 of the Constitution.”

Article 76 states that it shall be the duty of the Attorney General 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 President.”

Urging the government to revoke the rule at the earliest, Rohatgi said if every such proposal was routed through the Law Ministry, “the entire work would come to a grinding halt and no urgent remedial measure could be taken since the Law Ministry takes it own time”.

First Published: February 27, 2017, 12:22 PM IST