New Delhi: Eminent lawyer and constitutional law expert, Kottayan Katankot Venugopal, who is set to become the new attorney general of India, brings with himself more than 50 years of legal experience at the bar.
Venugopal’s appointment has been approved by President Pranab Mukherjee and is likely to be announced in time for the courts’ re-opening after the summer break.
The 86-year-old, who will succeed Mukul Rohtagi, began his practice as an advocate in 1954.
His appointment comes at a time when the government is in need of defending some critical policies in court, including the privacy issues surrounding Aadhaar, challenges to the latest notification on cattle sale and triple talaq.
Born in Kerala in 1931, he began his career in Chennai and subsequently moved to the national capital in the 1960s. His reputation as a lawyer grew over the years and he was elevated to serve as a senior advocate by the Supreme Court in 1972. He was appointed additional solicitor general in 1977 during the Janata Party government.
Venugopal is particularly known for his deep knowledge and understanding of constitutional law. He has appeared in various high-profile cases like the Babri Masjid demolition case and the Tamil Nadu’s DMK government dismissal case in 1976. He was also appointed to assist the court in the 2G spectrum case.
He also was a counsel in the Mandal case, judges’ appointment cases and the disproportionate assets cases against the late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. While the Mandal case dealt with issues of reservation in promotion and not just appointments in government services for other backward classes, the judges appointment cases dealt with the constitutional validity of judges’ appointment by a collegium. He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award for his service to the nation in 2015. He also played a key role in the drafting of the Constitution of Bhutan.