Government to appoint to have zeroed in on constitutional expert K K Venugopal as attorney general

Government to appoint to have zeroed in on constitutional expert K K Venugopal as attorney general'

NEW DELHI,June27: The government appears to have zeroed in on constitutional expert K K Venugopal as Mukul Rohatgi’s successor for the attorney general’s post.

The 86-year-old looks set to return as a law officer after a gap of 40 years. Official sources confirmed that Venugopal has emerged as the front-runner for the AG’s post and his name is likely to be announced after PM Narendra Modi’s return from the US.

“His experience and stature in the Supreme Court and legal circles makes him stand head and shoulders above the others,” a source said.

Venugopal, who started appearing in the SC in the early 1960s, while based in erstwhile Madras, was designated as a senior advocate by the SC in 1972.

Five years later, after the end of Emergency, he was invited by the Janata Party government led by Morarji Desai to become an additional solicitor general that warranted shifting base from Madras to Delhi.

What Venugopal will bring to the attorney general’s office is his unmatched experience of 50 years’ practice in the SC. He has seen the growth of litigation in the highest court and the inconvenience litigants from southern and northeastern states face in approaching the apex court for justice.

He does not support creation of SC benches in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to provide litigants from far flung areas easy access to the highest court.

He believes establishing four final Courts of Appeal in the four metros — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata — and leaving the SC to function as the federal constitutional court which would lead to better dispensation of justice.

A stickler for rules, Venugopal is often sought out by the SC when it faces tricky constitutional questions. He believes in hard work first and court craft later. “I don’t think I possess much of court craft except that I consciously try not to raise my voice when addressing judges to hammer home my point and I try to smile during arguments to lighten the atmosphere,” he had told news media.

This will be the contrast between Venugopal and Rohatgi, the latter mixing sound and fury with his arguments and not afraid to call a spade a spade.

Venugopal had told TOI, when this paper had included him as one of the top 10 lawyers in the SC, “Since the SC is the final court where its decision is no more appealable, one necessarily has to prepare one’s cases thoroughly. Therefore, I would set apart 70% towards preparation of cases and only 30% for court craft.”

Venugopal, apart from being involved in many important cases before constitutional benches of the SC, spent more than six years as amicus curiae in the infamous 2G spectrum scam case relating to irregular allotment of bandwidth to telecom operators during the tenure of A Raja as telecom minister in UPA-1. He assisted the SC in monitoring investigations by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

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