Do not approach law officers directly for legal opinion

New Delhi: Unhappy with its law officers giving independent advice to various ministries without consulting it, the Law Ministry has shot off a letter to all central ministries and departments, asking them not to approach them directly for opinions on litigations.

The Ministry has also asked its law officers not to entertain requests from different ministries and departments without getting a reference from it.

"All the Ministries and Departments are requested not to seek legal opinion or advice directly from the Law Officers and necessary instructions in this regard may also be issued to all PSUs/Autonomous Bodies under their control," a Law Ministry note said.

Sources said the move is aimed at preventing a situation where the Law Ministry is caught unawares in courts on sensitive cases at a time when government is regularly getting cornered by the judiciary in high profile cases.

The note, which has the approval of Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, has also referred to Rule 8 of the Law Officers (Condition of Services Rules), 1972 which clearly states that any law officer "shall not advice any Ministry or Department of Government of India…unless the proposal or a reference in this regard is received through the Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Legal Affairs."

The law officers including the Attorney General and the Solicitor General have also been requested not to directly entertain any requests for legal opinion without getting reference from the Ministry.

Law Secretary D R Meena had written a similar letter to the law officers in August last year in which he had stated that "off late, it has been noticed that law officers are tendering advice to various ministries/government departments directly without receiving a reference from the Ministry and thereby creating embarrassing situations…"