With just a week left for the completion of his three-year tenure as country’s top law officer, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi wrote to the Centre informing expressing his desire to step down from his post. Rohatgi's term ends on 19 June.
Rohatgi's letter has come nearly a week after the government notified extension to his tenure as the attorney-general, and that of four other law officers till further orders. In his letter, Rohatgi has given personal reasons for quitting his post and expressed his desire to return to private practice.
Rohatgi was appointed as the attorney-general in June 2014, a month after the BJP government came to power.
During his stint, he argued in many contentious matters like the challenge to National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act on the appointment of judges for the higher judiciary and assisted the Supreme Court in the ‘triple talaq’ case.
Talking about his tenure to News18.com, Rohatgi said his only regret was about quashing of the NJAC by the Supreme Court in 2015 when he had led from the front for the government, but the government lost this battle and the apex court revived the power of the collegium to appoint judges. “I hope the court reviews the NJAC verdict,” he added.
Son of a former Delhi High Court judge, Rohatgi is perceived to be close to the present BJP dispensation, with finance minister Arun Jaitley considered to be his close friend.
In the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots, Rohatgi had represented the Gujarat government in the Supreme Court in the riots and fake encounter death cases, including the Best Bakery and Zahira Sheikh cases, reported The Indian Express.
Despite being seen as an upright and workaholic person — Rohatgi is known to work seven days a week— some of his acts as attorney-general have courted controversies as well.
In July 2015, as country’s attorney-general, Rohatgi had appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of Kerala bar owners against the state government’s move to make three-star hotels ineligible for licenses to sell Indian manufactured foreign liquor. This led to a protest from the state’s chief minister Oommen Chandy, who had described Rohatgi’s act as “unethical” and “not right”, reported The Economic Times.
Activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan had said that it was “inappropriate” for the attorney general to appear for private parties against a state government in which there was no substantial public interest, The Economic Times added.
Views on triple talaq issue
Rohatgi, who was assisting the Supreme Court in the triple talaq case, told News18.com recently that the custom of Muslim community of the country was not only “unconstitutional” but should also be made “punishable” by law.
On the role of the Indian Army in Kashmir
Batting for the Indian Army’s role in Kashmir, Rohatgi told in the same interview to News18.com that the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should stay in Kashmir.
“Indian forces were working under challenging circumstances in Kashmir and these are disturbing times and AFSPA can stay in Jammu and Kashmir for now," Rohatgi told News18.com.
Talking about the incident where an army major named Major Leetul Gogoi had tied a Kashmiri man to his jeep’s bonnet and drove him in the area, Rohatgi said, “Major Leetul Gogoi didn't do anything wrong because he saved the lives of a lot of people there. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions... If Army major got away without hurting anybody, it's a great job."
Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 18:14 PM