Solicitor General of India

Is this a Constitutional Post in India?

The Constitution of India ensures a post of an Attorney General, in each and every state in India. Given the number of pending cases all over the India, it might be imperative to think that a post of an additional solicitor general and a solicitor general can be introduced by an amendment in the Constitution. An additional solicitor general can be a representative of four or five Zones who can advise a few State Governments, on cases of legal importance of the Government. An attorney general can support Public Prosecutors in a state, while a solicitor general can work in tandem with a Parliamentary Committee.

The term of Attorney General was originally used to refer to any person who can hold a general power of attorney to represent a legal case in all the matters. In the common law tradition, anyone who represents the state, especially in criminal prosecutions, is an attorney in other countries. Although a government may designate some official as the permanent attorney general, anyone who comes to represent the state in the same way may, in the past, be referred to as such, even if only for a particular case as a solicitor general.

Solicitor general can also consult the President and the Prime Minister on matters in international jurisdiction, especially ICJ, that can be of national importance. A solicitor general is a Constitutional post.

Duties of Solicitor General are laid out in Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules, India:

  • 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.

Restrictions of private practice

As law officers represent 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 or any University, Government School or College, local authority, Public Service Commission, Port Trust, Port Commissioners, Government aided or Government managed hospitals, a Government company, any Corporation owned or controlled by the State, anybody or institution in which the Government has a preponderating interest;

  • 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 or any Public Sector Undertaking unless the proposal or a reference in this regard is received through the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs.

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