- An expert committee of the Bar Council of India is considering a plea to ban lawmakers — Members of Parliament and Members of the Assemblies — from doubling up as practising advocates, saying they are salaried public servants and cannot ride two horses at the same time.
About the Petition:
- The petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay contended that MPs and MLAs draw their salaries from the Consolidated Fund of India, hence, are “employees of the state”.
The BCI Rule 49:
- The BCI Rule 49 restricts a salaried employee from practising as an advocate, the petition said. Many senior advocates practising in the Supreme Court are also party politicians and sitting MPs.
Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act:
- Under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, MLAs and MPs are public servants. Hence, allowing them to practice, as an advocate and restricting other public servants is arbitrary, irrational and violation of Articles 14-15 of the Constitution.
- It amounted to “professional misconduct” that MLAs and MPs, who get salary and other benefits from the public fund, appear against the government. Some of these lawmakers even hold corporate retainer-ships. “They appear against the State to defend their lawbreaker clients in the Court of Law, which is the matter of conflict of interest.
- While an advocate should be fully dedicated to his profession, legislators are also expected “to dedicate their fulltime to public and their constituents ahead of their personal and financial interests.
- Legal profession requires fulltime attention and would not countenance an advocate riding two horses at a time. It is impossible for a person to perform two fulltime duties at a time. Therefore, MLAs and MPs must be barred from practicing as an advocate.
- The Bar Council of India is a statutory body established under the section 4 of advocates Act 1961 that regulates the legal practice and legal education in India.
- It prescribes standards of professional conduct, etiquettes and exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar.