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BCI Panel Formed to Examine if MPs, MLAs can Practice Law Defers Report

BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay who had filed the plea raised this issue of conflict of interest before the committee as MPs have powers to "impeach judges".

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:January 5, 2018, 4:53 PM IST
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BCI Panel Formed to Examine if MPs, MLAs can Practice Law Defers Report
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New Delhi: The expert committee constituted by the Bar Council of India has delayed its report on disqualification of lawyers practicing as MPs and MLAs after receiving a plea that there is a conflict of interest if they argue cases.

BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay who had filed the plea raised this issue of conflict of interest before the committee as MPs have powers to "impeach judges".

"MPs have the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against judges, which, in turn, would mean, pressuring them to give a favourable verdict when they plead before them in a case. This is clearly a very serious conflict of interest," the statement filed by Upadhyay on January 4 said.

Following this, the committee, which was supposed to submit its report to BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra on Friday, decided to defer it to January 10.

"The report could not be tabled today. An additional statement was filed. We are looking at the report being tabled by next Wednesday," Mishra told News18.

The panel, which is considering the application, is composed of top lawyers on the BCI roll and office bearers —Bhoj Chander Thakur, Rameshchandra G Shah and DP Dhal.

In his application, Upadhyay had contended that MPs and MLAs were paid their salaries out of the Consolidated Fund of India and were hence the “employees of the state”.

The application stated that “many MPs, MLAs appear as an advocate even during Parliament/Legislative Assembly session and participate in matters that affect the financial interests of the country and with a person with whom they have a prospective employment”.

Upadhyay said, “A legislator plays important role in development of his state. He can fulfil his developmental role under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS). Under the scheme, every MP is allocated Rs 5 crore per year for initiating developmental works in his constituency."
However, he claims that appearing as an advocate does not auger well with their constitutional mandate and hence must be barred from practicing.

He has also stated that since MPs get salary, pension, vehicle, bungalow and other benefits from consolidated fund of India to perform public duty only, hence, appearing against the Government to "defend a private person is not only unethical and immoral but also a professional misconduct and financial corruption."

On December 21, the Bar Council of India had constituted an expert committee to look into an application which seeks to debar MPs and MLAs from practising as lawyers on the grounds that it is “against the spirit of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India”.

Mishra had earlier told News18 that the expert committee is considering an application by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay.

“We have appointed a three-member committee, which is looking into the application and the report will be tabled before me within a week. Since the committee is currently working on this, there can be no conclusion as yet,” Mishra said, clarifying that he was not part of the committee.

A few of the prominent names who are MPs and are reputed lawyers too are P Chidambaram, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Vivek Tankha, KTS Tulsi and Kapil Sibal. There are several other MLAs who are currently practicing as lawyers too.
| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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