The Bar Council of India has sought responses of MPs, members of Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils who are practising advocates on a plea that they be barred from practising as long as they remain elected representatives. The Bar Council has given the legislators a week to give their comments.
The notice comes on a plea by Delhi BJP leader and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay. He contended that since the MPs, MLAs and MLCs draw salaries from the government, they cannot be allowed to practice as per rules of the Bar Council of India and the Advocates Act.
Acting on Upadhyay’s plea, the Bar Council set up a three-member sub-committee to look into the question. The committee consisted of BCI co-chairmen B C Thakur, R G Shah, D P Dhal and S Prabhakaran (special invitee).
“The committee, after considering the representation of the petitioner, has decided to issue notice to the MPs/MLAs and has invited their comments with regard to the representation. The Council has thought it just and proper to seek the comments of those MPs, MLAs or MLCs who are in legal practice, before taking any final decision in this matter. It is a very important issue which may have far-reaching effects,” a Bar Council statement said. A decision will be taken at the Council meeting on January 21, it added.
Upadhyay relied on the 1996 decision of the Supreme Court in the Haniraj L. Chulani vs Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa case in which it was held that a person qualified to be admitted as an advocate but is in either full time or part time service or employment or is engaged in any trade, business or profession shall not be admitted as an advocate.