An expert committee set up by the Bar Council of India has deferred its report on the matter of MPs and MLAs being disqualified from practicing law after receiving an additional statement alleging a conflict of interest if they argue cases.
BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay who had filed the original application highlighted the conflict of interest before the committee noting that MPs have powers to “impeach judges”.
MPs Can Impeach Judges
The statement filed by Upadhyay pointed out that since MPs have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings, it could mean that they could be pressured to “give a favourable verdict when they plead before them in a case. “
After the receipt of this statement the committee, which was on the verge of submitting its report to BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra this week, has decided to postpone the submission to January 10.
The panel comprises top lawyers who are on the BCI roll as well as key office bearers namely, Bhoj Chander Thakur, Rameshchandra G Shah and DP Dhal.
Upadhyay’s application stated that numerous MPs/MLAs appear as advocates even during Parliament/Legislative Assembly sessions, participating in matters that “affect the financial interests of the country and with a person with whom they have a prospective employment”.
Practicing As Lawyers Goes against Constitutional Mandate
In his plea, Upadhyay had argued that as MPs and MLAs were being paid salaries out of the Consolidated Fund of India, they were the “employees of the state”.
According to Upadhyay, appearing as an advocate was not appropriate in regards to their constitutional mandate and therefore they must be barred from practicing.
He pointed out that MPs receive a variety of benefits like salary, pension, vehicle, bungalow from consolidated fund of India to perform public duty only, and so appearing against the Government on behalf of a private person “is not only unethical and immoral but also a professional misconduct and financial corruption.”
The expert committee had been constituted on December 21 by the Bar Council of India to look into the application seeking to debar MPs and MLAs from practising as lawyers since it is “against the spirit of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India”.
Some of the prominent lawyers who are currently MPs are Abhishek Manu Singhvi, P Chidambaram, KTS Tulsi, Vivek Tankha, and Kapil Sibal. Several MLAs are also currently practicing as lawyers.