Rohatgi bats for Kerala bars in SC.
ATTORNEY General Mukul Rohatgi, Modi government's senior-most law officer, raised eyebrows in the Supreme Court on Friday when he represented a private party and that too four-star Bar owners of Kerala in their appeal against Kerala HC order upholding state government's liquor policy confining bar licences only to five star hotels.
Though Rohatgi defended the decision to accept the brief telling reporters who questioned him saying he had secured the requisite special permission from the centre, sections of the bar (lawyer community) feel it was improper. The AG also sees no conflict of interest as Union of India is not a party in the case.
Rule 8 (1) (a) of the Law Officer (Conditions of Service) prohibits Central Government's law officers from appearing for private parties. As complaints of law officers defying the rule increased, law ministry last year issued a rule that no
law officer shall appear for private parties. The ministry had said permission for taking up
private cases could be sought only in"compelling" situation as their primary role is to defend the government in courts.
Lawyers also point out that permission obtained for appearing for bar owners of the kerala who are opposing total prohibition is all the more astonishing as Article 47of the constitution mandates implementation of prohibition policy.
"AG Rohatgi's was a constitutional post and though appearing for a private party and that too bar owners is not illegal per se, it is unethical and immoral", said a senior SC lawyer who did not want to be named.
Kerala government had on the last date of hearing defended the policy saying they want to prevent young people from destroying their lives by drinking too much, and that hotel owners cannot be allowed to make money at the cost of the future of the youth.
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