Under fire from the government for its alleged inept handling of legal issues related to the 2G spectrum scam, the law ministry has told all government departments, ministries and public sector undertakings (PSUs) that any legal opinion obtained without its reference won't be considered valid.
In a confidential official memorandum circulated by it, the law ministry has advised all the departments, ministries and PSUs not to approach its law officers directly without taking its permission.
"Some of the ministries/ departments are approaching law officers directly to seek their opinion/advice. All the ministries/departments/PSUs/autonomous bodies are requested not to seek legal opinion without getting a reference from the ministry," stated the circular.
The move is being seen as an attempt by the ministry to distance itself from the controversial legal opinions provided by some law officers to the department of telecom (DoT) to clear the controversial policy for the grant of licences of 2G spectrum in 2007-08.
"There is no record in the law ministry to show that the DoT sought reference of the law ministry for any opinion related to 2G spectrum and we will not take responsibility for any unsolicited opinion taken by any other department," said a ministry official. "Even in the Bhopal gas case, some private law firms arranged legal opinions from independent lawyers in favour of Dow Chemicals... but we rejected it," he said.
The law ministry has said, "Necessary instructions are being issued in this regard to all the PSUs/autonomous bodies under their control."
In its circular sent to the attorney general, solicitor general and all additional solicitor generals, the ministry has cautioned its law officers against tendering opinions independently. "The law officers are requested not to tender opinions/advice to any ministry/department/PSU without getting reference from the ministry," the circular stated. It told its law officers that they are governed by the conditions of service rules, 1972, which debars them from rendering advice without approval of the legal affairs department.