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Supreme Court seeks Attorney General's assistance on a plea to bar legislators from practising as advocates

A plea in SC alleged that parliamentarians and legislators practising as lawyers pose a "conflict of interest" and violation of provisions of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules.

Published: 17th February 2018 08:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2018 08:53 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court (PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has sought the assistance of the Attorney General (AG) on a plea seeking a ban on legislators from practising as advocates.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar sought the assistance of AG K K Venugopal on a plea which alleged that parliamentarians and legislators practising as lawyers pose a "conflict of interest" and violation of provisions of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules.

The petition, filed by BJP Delhi spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, said that while a public servant cannot practice as an advocate, legislators are practising in various courts which was a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

"Legislators take fee from litigant and salary from the public exchequer, which is professional misconduct," the plea said.

The plea said that the issue is a matter of concern to both the judiciary and the legislature as most of the lawmaker-advocates are involved in active practice of law, despite receiving salaries and other perquisites drawn on the public exchequer.

"They (MPs and MLAs) also utilise their position as MPs/MLAs to be visible in public domain, including on television where they give interviews or participate in shows.

This essentially amounts to advertising as their brand is promoted among the public, many of whom are potential litigants," the plea said.

The petition also pointed out that the MPs have the power of voting on the impeachment of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

"Therefore, allowing them to practice as an advocate in the Supreme Court and high courts is a very serious 'conflict of interest' because it may allow the judges to feel beholden to them and to oblige them," the petition said.

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