Perhaps for the first time since India became the Republic, the post of Attorney General of India has been lying vacant for nearly five days, since June 12, as the outgoing AG, Mukul Rohatgi finished his term on June 11.
Although Rohatgi wrote to the Government last month expressing his desire not to be considered for another term as the AG, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) – comprising the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs - approved the extension of his term, along with that of other law officers, namely, the Solicitor General, Ranjit Kumar, and Additional Solicitor Generals, Maninder Singh, P.S.Narasimha, Tushar Mehta and Pinky Anand.
Subsequently, with Rohatgi going public on his request to the Government not to be considered for another term because he wants to return to private practice, the Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad has said the Government would respect his wishes, even though it is satisfied that he completed his term with distinction.
The list of Law Officers as on June 8, uploaded in the website of Department of Legal Affairs, shows Rohatgi’s term as having expired on June 11. The terms of the Solicitor General, Ranjit Kumar, and of the four Additional Solicitors-General, Maninder Singh, Tushar Mehta, P.S.Narasimha, Pinky Anand, have been renewed from June 7 “until further orders”. Interestingly, although the previous term of Pinky Anand was to expire only on July 6, her fresh term begins on June 7, implying that it has been extended one month in advance.
It is now confirmed that the term of the ASG, Paramjit Singh Patwalia, has not been extended, although it expired on June 6. Patwalia now resumes his private practice as he has reportedly requested the Government not to extend his term, which has been accepted by the Government. During the first two years of the Narendra Modi Government, Patwalia has reportedly submitted to the Law Ministry, more number of requests for permission to represent private parties, than other law officers.
The terms of four more ASGs are expiring on July 27, but there is no news on whether they and the Government would agree to their extension. They are G.Rajagopalan (Madras High Court), Anil Chandrabali Singh (Bombay High Court), Sanjay Jain (Delhi High Court), Rajdeepak Rastogi (Rajasthan High Court and its bench at Jaipur).
The term of the ASG, Ashok Mehta (Allahabad High Court and its bench at Lucknow) expires on October 16, and he may have to soon make up his mind whether to agree to a fresh term.
There are five more ASGs attached with the High Courts, whose terms expire on April 7 next year. They are K.M.Nataraj (Bangalore, Southern Zone), Satya Darshi Sanjay (Patna), Satya Pal Jain (Punjab and Haryana High Court), Prabhuling K.Navadgi (Karnataka High Court) and Kaushik Chanda (Calcutta).
ASG, Atmaram N.S.Nadkarni (Supreme Court), who began his term on May 10 last year, has his tenure up to May 9, 2019.