India: Bar Council of India to examine plea to ban MPs and MLAs from practicing as advocates

February 3, 2018


A plea was made to Bar Council of India (hereinafter referred to as the ‘BCI’) by a BJP Delhi Spokesperson, through a letter to consider debarment of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) from practicing as advocates as they are public servants already and cannot sail in two boats at the same time!![1]

The letter was sent by BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. The letter mentions:

  • MPs and MLAs are “employees of the state” as they get their salary from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Section 2 (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, 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 and 15 of the Constitution of India, 1950.
  • Responsible for professional misconduct as they appear against the Government.
  • Whether it’s legal profession or public service, both the profession require commitment and dedication. And as a public servant the interest of public should be kept ahead of their personal and financial interests.
  • Supreme Court has time and again held that salaried employees or advocates into any other profession cannot practice law. For instance in the cases of, Dr. Haniraj L. Churani v. Bar Council of India, P.V. Naraasimha Rao v Statae (CBI/SPE) and Satish Kumar Sharma v Bar Council of Himachal Pradesh
  • Also, it is said that these MLAs defend ‘lawbreaker clients’ in the court of law, a situation which has been contended to be ‘not only immoral and unethical’ but also in violation of Rule 49 of the BCI Rules.

In response to the letter the BCI, on December 26, 2017, constituted a three member expert committee, comprising of advocates B.C. Thakur, R.G. Shah and D.P. Dhal, to look into the matter. Manan Kumar Mishra, (BCI) Chairman and Senior Advocate, said that ‘The three-member panel is examining the provisions of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules in this respect.’[2]


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