Mukul Rohatgi’s Attorney General Offer: A Lucid Decline or Against His Will?

What can be there unseen behind the rejection so powerful?

With the current obligatory K K Venugopal’s tenure set to expire on September 30,2022, Rohatgi being appointed, would have been the 16th AG, marking this as his second time in the high office. He was AG from June 2014 to June 2017, before Venugopal took over.

In A surprising turn of events, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was learnt to have earlier conveyed his willingness to the government’s request to be Attorney General of India, has declined the offer.

“True,” he told The Indian Express when asked about the development. Asked what prompted him to change his mind, Rohatgi said there was “no specific reason”, and added that he had taken the decision after “second thoughts”.

On pointing out about his consent earlier, Rohatgi said: “That’s why I said on second thoughts. The notification is not out yet, So…”

Venugopal succeeded Rohatgi in July 2017 for three years. When his three-year tenure came to an end, 91-year old Venugopal had requested to be relieved of the post, citing his age. However, the central government requested him to continue and kept extending his tenure. On which Venugopal indicated to the government that he did not want to remain in the office after September 30, when the term ends.

So the government scouted for other names, and picked Rohatgi, who at first agreed.

The son of former Delhi High Court Judge Justice Avadh Behari Rohatgi, Mukul Rohatgi was appointed Additional Solicitor General in 1999 when late A B Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.

He represented the Gujarat government in the Supreme Court in the 2002 riots cases. He was appointed AG when the Narendra Modi government assumed office in 2014.

He appeared for the SC-constituted SIT opposing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of Congress MP Ahsan Jafri who was killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

After Venugopal took over as AG, Rohatgi appeared for hotelier Keshav Suri in the apex court in 2018, challenging the constitutionality of Article 377 which criminalised same sex. He argued that sexual orientation is natural and innate to a person’s identity.

In 2018, he was appointed “eminent jurist” member in the Lokpal Selection Committee chaired by the Prime Minister.