The Centre on Tuesday opposed a public interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court by Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking restrictions on legislators practising law, Bar and Bench reported.

Attorney General KK Venugopal said legislators are not full-time government employees. “They are doing a public service in their capacity as an MP,” Venugopal reasoned. “You cannot stop a person from practising a profession. It is a fundamental right to carry on a profession.”

In January, a Bar Council of India expert committee issued notices to members of Parliament and state legislatures who practise lawyers, asking them why they should not be debarred. The following month, the committee recommended that they should not be barred. Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, KTS Tulsi, P Chidambaram were among the over 500 MPs and MLAs under the council’s scanner.

Upadhyay argued that legislators “get a salary from the consolidated fund of India and are, hence, employees of the state, and the BCI’s rule 49 restricts a salaried employee from practising as an advocate”.