Can’t stop legislators from practising: Bar Council

But can’t be party to impeachment motion against judge

April 01, 2018 09:47 pm | Updated 11:50 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Wooden gavel in hand on gray background

Wooden gavel in hand on gray background

The Bar Council of India has said it cannot stop legislators from practising as lawyers. However, it can ban lawyer-legislators from taking part in an impeachment motion against a judge.

The Council, which is the apex lawyers’ body in the country, said legislators who move an impeachment motion against any judge of the higher judiciary would not be allowed to appear before that court.

Preventive measure

BCI Chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra said the resolution was not meant as a curb on the functions of a legislator, but a preventive measure taken against “misuse of privilege” in the lawmaker’s role as a lawyer.

The BCI resolution comes at a time when Opposition parties are working towards introducing an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. It has been reported that Congress MPs who are practising as senior advocates in the Supreme Court play a role in bringing the impeachment motion.

“The BCI has come to a final conclusion that we cannot stop or ban MPs from practising, but there is an exception to it. 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,” Mr. Mishra told the media on Saturday.

The apex court on March 12 sought the response of the BCI on a plea filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking a ban on lawmakers from practising as advocates.

The petition has said that while a public servant cannot practise as an advocate, legislators are practising in various courts which is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law).

It has also said that MPs have the power of voting on impeachment of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

“Therefore, allowing them to practise as an advocate in the Supreme Court and the High Courts is a very serious ‘conflict of interest’ because it may allow the judges to feel beholden to them and to oblige them,” according to the petition.

The hearing on this petition is fixed for April 23.

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