Don’t seek legal opinion directly from me: AG to ministries

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Attorney General K K Venugopal has asked ministries and central government departments against seeking legal opinion directly from him saying they should approach his office through the law ministry, a senior government functionary has said.

The AG’s office has written to some secretaries whose ministries had approached him directly seeking his legal opinion on various issues.

Venugopal’s office has also said that a brief summary of the case should be mentioned while seeking opinion, the functionary said.

His predecessor Mukul Rohatgi, on the contrary, was of the view that departments should be allowed to approach him directly for legal opinions as routing requests through the law ministry takes time.

Earlier this year, Rohatgi had written to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad saying departments and even ministers have declined to route their requests for his legal opinion through the law ministry due to urgency of the matter.

Rule 8(e) of the Law Officers (Condition of Services) Rules, 1972 provides that unless a reference is received from the Law Ministry, no advice will be given to any ministry or department.

Rohatgi was of the view that the rule runs contrary to Article 76 of the Constitution which 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.

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