Orissa High Court decries lack of full-time advocate general as constitutional crisis

Expresses displeasure as appointment of new AG for the state is a constitutional mandate.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High CourtFile photo | Express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has raised concern over non-appointment of a full-fledged advocate general (AG) by the new government in the state. Odisha continues to have an in-charge advocate general as the state government is yet to appoint a full-time AG even as a month has passed since the fall of the BJD government.

The incumbent AG Ashok Kumar Parija resigned on June 6 after BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik’s resignation from the post of the chief minister. On the same day, government advocate Jyoti Prakash Pattnaik was appointed as in-charge AG.

Taking notice of the fact that the government has continued with an in-charge AG, the division bench of Chief Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Savitri Ratho on July 3 expressed displeasure as appointment of a new AG for the state “is a constitutional mandate”.

The bench further described the absence of an AG in the state as a “constitutional vacuum” citing Article 177 of the Constitution of India. The bench was hearing a batch of writ appeals when the absence of submissions of AG, the highest law officer of the state, was felt.

As per Article 177, “Every minister and the advocate general for a state shall have the right to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of, the Legislative Assembly of the state or, in the case of a state having a Legislative Council, both Houses, and to speak in, and otherwise to take part in the proceedings of, any committee of the Legislature of which he may be named a member, but shall not, by virtue of this article, be entitled to vote.”

The office of advocate general is a constitutional post created under Article 165 of the Constitution of India. Customarily, when a council of ministers of a state government resigns, the advocate general too resigns and the first appointment that is made after the new chief minister takes charge is that of AG.

Law department officers on condition of anonymity, however, said, “It’s prerogative of the state government to take a decision on appointment of AG.”

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