NEW DELHI: The law ministry has written to all ministries and d epartments asking them not to directly approach the Attorney General (AG) and other law officers.
It reiterated the supremacy of the legal affairs department in dealing with legal opinion and advice in a letter. Law Secretary Suresh Chandra has said ministries should avoid “impropriety” by approaching the AG directly.
The communication from the ministry comes in the wake of various ministries and departments writing to Attorney General KK Venugopal directly for legal advice.
The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961 define advice to other ministries on legal matters, including the interpretation of the Constitution and the laws, as the job of the legal affairs department. Last year, former AG Mukul Rohatgi had urged the government to junk a rule which bars him from giving legal advice to various ministries without involving the Law Ministry, saying it delays decision-making on important matters. Rohatgi had contended that the rule was contrary to constitutional provisions.
“All the ministries/departments are again requested that while seeking legal advice, they should follow procedure to as to avoid illegality/impropriety on account of jurisdictional error or procedural impropriety...,” the letter reads.
“The law officers are also requested that in cases other than sub-judice matters, opinion/advice to central government ministries/departments/PSUs may not be tendered without getting reference from the Law Ministry.”