SC dismisses PIL seeking to ban MPs/MLAs from practising as lawyers
New Delhi, September 25
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to ban MPs/MLAs from practising as advocates in courts, saying it was not backed by provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961, and Bar Council of India Rules.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which had on July 9 reserved its order on the issue, said lawmakers were not like full-time salaried employees which were covered under Rule 49 of the BCI Rules that debarred such employees from practising law.
Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay had filed a PIL seeking to debar MPs, MLAs and MLCs having licence to practise law from practising in courts during their tenure as lawmakers.
The Centre had submitted during the hearing that an MP or an MLA was an elected representative and not a full-time employee of the government and hence the PIL was not maintainable.
However, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Upadhyay, had contended that a lawmaker drew his/her salary from the public exchequer and a salaried employee is debarred by the Bar Council of India from practising in the courts of law.
The bench had noted that employment postulated a master-servant relationship and the Government of India is not the master of a Member of Parliament.
The petitioner had said while a public servant could not practise as an advocate, legislators were practising in courts which was a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution (right to equality).
Terming it a matter of concern for both the judiciary and the legislature, the petitioner had said that most of the lawmaker-advocates were involved in active practice of law, despite receiving salaries and other perquisites drawn on the public exchequer.