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Mukul Rohatgi Resigns as Attorney General; Salve, Kumar Top Contenders

Rohatgi said that he had conveyed to the government last month that he wants to return to private practice and would not like to be appointed as the country’s top law officer.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:June 11, 2017, 9:55 PM IST
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Mukul Rohatgi Resigns as Attorney General; Salve, Kumar Top Contenders
Mukul Rohatgi was appointed by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power in May 2014 and he has served his three-year term.

New Delhi: On the day his three-year tenure was set to end, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi wrote to the central government saying that he doesn't want an extension as the country’s top law officer.

Rohatgi's letter has come nearly a week after the government notified extension to his tenure as the Attorney General and four other law officers till further orders.

Declining an extension to his term, Rohatgi, in his letter, cited personal reasons and expressed satisfaction over his term. Speaking to the CNN-News18, Rohatgi confirmed his willingness to quit and said he wants to return to private practice.

Sources said that Harish Salve, who had represented India at the International Court of Justice in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar are the front runners to be the next AG if Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepts Rohatgi’s resignation.

While Kumar was appointed as the SG in June 2014, Salve could come at the top, given the fact that the PM was interested in having him as the AG in 2014 itself but Salve had expressed his inability due to offshore assignments.

Talking about his tenure, Rohatgi said the only regret was about quashing of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (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.

Rohatgi says that he had a fantastic relation with the Prime Minister, law minister and bureaucracy during the three-year tenure as AG. “Even if I return to private practice, my services will be available to NDA government, BJP and its leaders as and when needed,” he said.

Rohatgi was drafted in as additional solicitor general for Supreme Court by Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999. He said he has served as a law officer for five years for the Vajpayee government and now three years under the Modi government and now wants to return to his private practice.

Rohatgi had written to the government about his desire not to continue as AG in the last week of May, shortly after arguing for Centre in triple talaq case.

Son of former Delhi High Court judge Justice Awadh Behari Rohatgi, he represented the Gujarat government in the Supreme Court in the 2002 Gujarat riots and fake encounter death cases, including the Best Bakery and Zahira Sheikh cases.

A sought-after corporate lawyer, Rohatgi had also represented industrialist Anil Ambani in the apex court in the gas dispute case between the Ambani brothers.

He had also been representing the Italian embassy in the apex court in a case relating to the two Italian marines involved in the killing of two fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012.

Besides some of these high-profile cases handled by him, Rohatgi had also appeared on behalf of big corporates in the 2G scam trial.

(With inputs from Debayan Roy)

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