The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Saturday decided to allow members of Parliament and legislative assemblies to practise as advocates, but said those who participate in impeachment proceedings against a Supreme Court or High Court judge cannot appear before that judge/court.
BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, a senior advocate, said the decision was to prevent “misuse of powers” and “privileges” of a lawyer and not of an MP.
The council met to discuss the report of its sub-committee on the question whether MPs and MLAs should be allowed to practise as advocates. The sub-committee report came on a plea by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who sought a ban on lawmakers from practising as advocates.
Upadhyay had contended that while public servants can’t practise as advocates, legislators are allowed to do so and this was a violation of Article 14 (equality before law).
The sub-committee was of the opinion that legislators cannot be stopped from practising law.
Mishra said BCI had decided to accept this. “The BCI has come to a conclusion that we cannot stop or ban MPs from practising in courts,” he told a press conference here. “The lawyer-MPs or MLAs, if they start any motion of impeachment or a removal proceeding against any High Court or Supreme Court judge, they will not be allowed to practise in that particular court. This is the majority view of the council,” he added.
Explaining this, the BCI resolution said the sub-committee report had said that the council may consider framing rules barring advocates who are also MPs from appearing before the judge/court against whom motion of removal under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 had been admitted by the Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha Chairman as the case may be.
The BCI chairman said that the lawyer-MPs have their privilege as parliamentarians, but “as lawyers, the BCI can put the condition under which they can be allowed to practise or not”. “Our Parliament is supreme. The members have their privilege. We cannot make any comment on their privileges. But as lawyers, we can put the condition under which they can be allowed to practise or not.”
(With inputs from PTI)