A public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court to ban public servants, elected representatives and members of judiciary from simultaneously practicing other professions and declare it as criminal misconduct.
The petitioner, a lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has urged the apex court to frame a uniform policy relating to the “conflict of interest”
“Frame a uniform policy relating to conflict of interest for public servants, people representatives and members of judiciary in spirit of Article 14 of the Constitution and declare the conflict of interest as the criminal misconduct”, said the PIL.
It also wanted the court to define the key roles and responsibilities of the people representatives and public servants to make the Indian democracy more transparent and effective in spirit of Preamble of the Constitution of India.
The PIL has made the Centre, Law Ministry, Bar Council of India and Law Commission as respondents
It said conflict of interest is a situation in which an individual or corporation is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity for their personal or corporate benefit. It creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by secondary interest. Primary interest refers to the principal goals of profession or activity, such as protection of clients and duty of public office. Secondary interest includes personal benefit and is not limited to only financial gain but also such motives as the desire for professional advancement or favour for family and friends.
“Public servants and members of the Judiciary are not permitted to practice other professions including to practice as an Advocate before the Court of Law but the People Representatives are allowed, which is against the spirit of Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution”, the PIL said.
“A Legislator enjoys better salary, allowance and post-retirement benefits than the public servants and members of Judiciary. Legislator is a very noble, honorable and fulltime profession but it does not remain honorable merely by calling it as such, unless he is dedicated for welfare of the people of his constituency. Legislators are expected to put service to public and their constituents ahead of their personal interests”, says the PIL.
Upadhyay said many Lawmakers hold corporate retainer-ship and defend their lawbreaker clients in the Court of Law, which is the matter of conflict of interest. “It is not only immoral, unethical but also violation of the Rule 49 of the BCI Rules. This Hon’ble Court in Dr. Haniraj Chulani vs. Bar Council of Maharashtra has held that: Legal profession requires full time attention and would not countenance an Advocate riding two horses or more at a time”, his PIL said.
Read the petition here.