Last week, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi took charge as the new Attorney General for India. The bouquets though, continue to arrive at his office. His chamber is buzzing with people who have come to congratulate him, and the phones are ringing off the hook..We finally sit down to have a quick chat on his decision to take up the post of Attorney General, his priorities as the top law officer, the government’s legal strategy, working under high pressure, judicial appointment commission and what the office of Attorney General means to him..B&B: Let me start with the big story of the day. Former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium has withdrawn his consent for the post of Supreme Court judge saying he is being targeted for his independence and integrity?.Mukul Rohatgi: I have nothing to say on this matter, because I have no role to play. He was invited by the Supreme Court to become a judge and the Supreme Court recommended his elevation to the government. The government sent it for verification, as they do in such cases, to the concerned agencies. They submitted reports, which appeared in the papers. Today, I saw that Gopal Subramanium has written a scathing letter against the government and judiciary. I can only say that it is rather unfortunate..B&B: Former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran mentioned that he was under a lot of pressure from UPA allies. What do you have to say? What will you do if you face any kind of pressure from the government?.MR: I have frankly heard this for the first time. I am not privy to what kind of pressures he felt but, if he did, he should have spoken out at the relevant moment or he should have quit. There is no point talking about it at end of the term..I was part of the government earlier, as a law officer from 1999 to 2004 and played an active role, even though I was a junior ASG. I spent 5 years and handled thousands of cases. I never felt any pressure..I will either speak up or if it doesn’t gel with me, I will quit. By God’s grace I have lot of work as a private lawyer. What’s the big deal? This is a post that you accept with a great sense of responsibility; you have to represent the government. Everything should look fair and transparent to the court and to the public..If there is a problem you can always part ways, it’s not a government job but I hope the situation doesn’t come either to my team or me..B&B: Can you talk us through the decision to take up this post, leaving behind your successful practice?.MR: Sometimes you have to give back to the society or to the profession from which you have earned. Money is not everything. The government is also entitled to the services of a good lawyer and so, I have decided that as long as we are there, I will do it to best of our ability. I will stoutly defend the government..Luckily, both the law minister and the finance minister are good lawyers and they are good friends. I have a rapport, which is outside official lines, and I don’t think there should be a problem. This government seems to be a government, which means business. Every minister, at least the two ministers that I mentioned work at least 12 hours a day if not more, including Sundays. The Prime Minister himself is a hard working person. So, if everybody works hard, we will also do the same..B&B: Were there any concerns regarding your appointment? There was a delay in the Government sending a notification confirming you as AG..MR: Firstly, not that I know of and secondly, if you see it in perspective, there was hardly any delay. The swearing in happened on 26th of May and my appointment came through in about 2 weeks from then (which has 4 Saturdays and Sundays). I don’t think there was any delay; it was just the press..B&B: You have appeared for some of the very high profile clients. How will you handle conflict?.MR: Obviously in matters in which I have appeared against the government I certainly will not appear. So, in the 2G case, the Italian marines case, the Orissa mining and many other cases, I will not appear because there is a conflict but otherwise, I will appear for the government..B&B: Have you worked with the Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar before?.MR: I have just taken charge. I know Ranjit Kumar well. We have been colleagues at the Bar for the last 15 years. He is out of country so we haven’t really had much brainstorming discussion. I am still trying to settle down..B&B: Former Attorney General K Parasaran in an interview said, the law officers must work as team. What is your thought process?.MR: We have to work as a team. No individual person in the law officer’s team can handle the entire work. The amount of work is stupendous. For example, today I marked all the cases for Monday to all the law officers to ensure that everybody gets the same amount of work and it is transparent. I have done it myself because I don’t want to leave it to the government staff to do it..B&B: The system of marking briefs to law officers can be haphazard. Some law officers have earlier complained that they get briefs at the last minute and that too incomplete ones or some law officers get more briefs than the other..MR: The Central Agency was very cooperative. They sent me all the files for Monday, which are about 80 files. I had a meeting with all the central agency advocates on record. They explained to me about matters, which are urgent. So keeping all that in mind, I have marked the matters to law officer and, to some senior lawyers who are on the panel. I have added junior lawyers to the panel so that everybody gets a fair amount of work. It will take me some time to go through the whole list of lawyers on the panel because there are more than 500 lawyers on the panel, which is too much. So I have to sit down with all these lawyers and prune the list and keep people who are conscientious and more importantly, who are available in the Supreme Court..B&B: The Government often gets a lot of flak from the Supreme Court when law officers fail to appear. How do you think the Government can ensure more effective representation?.MR: The government has tremendous amount of litigation. First, I have told the law officers team, who will be scrutinizing files for filing appeals in the Supreme Court, that petty appeals where the amount is small or where these are just individual issues should not be, simply flogged and, brought up to the Supreme Court merely because Supreme Court is the last court. The matters which are either important from a legal point of view or where the related cases are already pending in the Supreme Court or where the question is recurring all the time should be given priority..B&B: What are you priorities as the top law officer of the country?.MR: To be the leader of a cohesive team of law officers. To try and ensure that needless and frivolous litigation, as far as the government is concerned, is not filed for the sake of filing. To defend the government’s views, its strategies and policies as best as I can. I will strive to uphold the principles of the Constitution and be a law officer, in the true sense, because a law officer for the government is not only a government lawyer, he also has a duty to advice the government correctly. Equally, he has a duty to the court and, to be fair before the court and the public..B&B: Your thoughts on judicial appointments..MR: I have already said that there should be a judicial commission and it is like a third experiment. The first being when the government was appointing for 40 years, the next being when the court appointed for 25 years. I don’t think either of them was successful or ideal. So the third experiment should be a mix of both, including a voice of the lawyers, because lawyers are the true barometers of a judge’s integrity, his knowledge and his standing..B&B: Lastly, the office of Attorney General. What does it mean to you?.MR: It is an office of great responsibility. The law officer must live up to proper standards. He is the link between the government and the court; he is also an officer of the court so it’s a multidimensional job, which is far more responsible and serious than that of an equivalent private lawyer. It’s obviously the top most post in the legal profession and a great honor..I am humbled by the fact that I have been chosen by the government to fill up a slot like this which was held by people like Motilal Setalvad, LN Sinha, K Parasaran, Soli Sorabjee and many others.