Senior advocate K K Venugopal’s name has been cleared for appointment as the Attorney General for India following the decision of Mukul Rohatgi to step down as the top law officer.
The proposal to appoint the 86-year-old veteran lawyer as the successor of Rohatgi was discussed before the departure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his recent visit to the US, Portugal and the Netherlands.
“Venugopal had a meeting with Modi before his departure to a three-nation tour,” sources said.
When contacted and asked about his priorities as the Attorney General, Venugopal said “I will speak only after the notification is issued.”
He said that the notification is likely to be issued in a day or two.
The law ministry had recently referred the file relating to the appointment of Venugopal as the Attorney General to the Prime Minister’s Office for a final call, sources had said.
After the decision is finalised, the President has to sign the Warrant of Appointment of the Attorney General.
A noted constitutional expert, Venugopal is the recipient of Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan. He would become a law officer for the second time after being an Additional Solicitor General during the Morarji Desai government during the ’70s.
He has been associated with several government instrumentalities and has been representing them as a senior advocate. Lately, he has been appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate before the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
The apex court had asked him to continue in the matter despite Venugopal’s replacement by the ED after he had taken a view different from the agency and the government on the removal of an investigation officer.
He also represented the Madhya Pradesh government during the hearing of National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in which he supported the validity of the central law to do away with the collegium system of appointment of judges for the higher judiciary.
However, his association with the Bharatiya Janata Party regime goes back to the Ayodhya movement when he had appeared for the then Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh by assuring the Supreme Court that the disputed medieval structure would be protected.
Later, when on December 6, 1992, the structure was brought down by the kar sevaks, he had appeared before a bench of then Chief Justice M N Venkatachaliah at his residence in the evening.
Venugopal had recently appeared for senior BJP leader L K Advani and others before the apex court which restored the charge of criminal conspiracy against them and ordered the completion of the trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case, in two years.
He has also appeared for P J Thomas when his appointment as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government was challenged in the apex court which had set aside the government’s decision.
He also appeared for Dandi Swamy Sri Vidyanada Bhartiji and J Jayalalithaa, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in 2008 in the Sethusamudram case, popularly known as Ram Sethu matter, against the construction of the ambitious shipping canal project of the previous UPA government.
The Supreme Court had stayed the construction of the controversial Ram Sethu or Adams Bridge project, a barrier located southeast of Rameshwaram, which connects Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.