The Supreme Court said on Thursday that there is nothing wrong if the Attorney General of India appears for private parties in cases where no conflict of interest is involved.
“As long as there is no conflict of interest, there is no issue. We may address him as learned Attorney General even when he is appearing for private parties but that does not mean he is considered as the law officer of the government. No, we cannot intervene in the matter and issue any orders,” said a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy.
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The bench made these observations as it dismissed a PIL, which sought directive to the Centre to stop giving permission to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to appear for private parties in cases against government. It also rejected the plea for referring the issue to a constitution bench to decide if senior government law officers can be allowed to appear against government.
Kerala-based NGO ‘Centre for Consumer Education’ has stated that the AG’s appearance for private parties is a direct conflict of interest since he is the face of the government in the apex court.
Questions were raised after Rohatgi represented four-star bar owners of Kerala in their appeal against state government’s liquor policy, which restricted bar licences only to five-star hotels. Rohatgi, while speaking to journalists, had defended the decision, saying he had secured the requisite permission from the Centre and added there was no conflict of interest as central government was not a party.