Ministers, India: Code of conduct for
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Avocations: outside work after office hours
AG: Minister can’t have any other employment
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told Times Now on Wednesday that Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu could not work as a minister in the day and participate in a television comedy show at night. Rohatgi said being a minister was a “24x7 job with no room for any other employment“. He also said that the Salary and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952, did not allow any minister to have any remuneration other than the emoluments paid by the government.
Excerpts from the Salary and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952 can be seen at Salaries, assets of legislators (PM, CMs, Ministers, MPs, MLAs...): India
“If that were so, then a judge could finish his work at 4pm and probably run a restaurant at night,“ the attorney general said, adding that what Sidhu was propos ing to do was untenable. Rohatgi also said the fact that Sidhu was the culture minister and wanted to work in a TV show “aggravated“ the issue, and made it easier for CM Amarinder Singh to take “whatever action he deems fit“. He also said that there was a code of conduct applicable to ministers at the Centre and in states that disallowed them from taking any emoluments from any business.
Amarinder said he was waiting for legal advice on the matter.
Once the Learned AG has given his opinion, laymen have little scope left for argument.
However, can a minister be compared with a judge or a government servant? Judges and government servants enjoy permanent employment from their early 20s to the age of 60 or 62 or 65 (depending on the level attained). Ministers hold their offices for limited terms and become ministers very late in life. They need to have a fallback income for the years before becoming a minister, and after.
The Government of Punjab’s decision on this will have far reaching ramifications on ministers continuing with the professions that they followed before becoming ministers. Can they continue to run transport companies and restaurants, as some have done, in their own names or in the names of their wives and children?
MP or MLA can continue his legal practice
The Supreme Court has ruled that under the Advocates act and Bar Council rules, lawyers who have become MPs and MLAs can continue their practice. The apex court has also said that there is no bar against an elected representative to continue his or her practice inspite of the fact that they are drawing salaries of MP or MLA and are also enjoying other perks.
Lawyers who take full time jobs have to suspend their practice as a full time employee is not entitled to do practice during his tenure as a full time regular employee. Many senior counsels who are MPs and MLAs also practised as advocates. The apex court has rejected the claim that an MP or MLA should also be debarred from doing practice like other full time employees during their term as MP or MLA. It may be noted here that a minister cannot practise but an MP or MLA can continue with his legal profession. Leading senior counsels like Ram Jethmalani, Arun Jaitley and BSP MP SC Mishra and others are continuing their practice despite the fact that they are MPs.
On the above analogy a minister cannot continue to host a TV show.
The decision on whether Mr Navjyot Singh Sidhu, Punjab’s Minister for Culture and other departments, can host a TV show will depend on whether India’s film actor ministers and Chief Ministers had ever acted in a film, or written a film script, during the period that they were ministers and Chief Ministers.
Punjab AG: TV judge is not an office of profit
CHANDIGARH: Putting the week-long controversy over newly sworn-in minister Navjot Sidhu's TV career to rest, Punjab advocate general on Thursday said the ex-cricketer can continue to work on his shows as there was [no?] conflict of interest in his role in Capt Amarinder's cabinet.
A controversy had erupted on the day of his joining as local bodies and tourism minister, Sidhu told media he would continue with his comedy show on TV at nights.
In his report, which was submitted to Punjab chief minister, AG Atul Nanda has now opined that the role and function of a celebrity judge is not an office of profit under both Centre and state subjects and Sidhu can continue to remain a minister as well as work as TV host.
"It is not even an office under any government" he has pointed out.
"Hence the continuation of such work would not invite the disqualification of holding of an office of profit within the meaning of Article 191 (1)," the report said.
Sidhu has been in the eye of storm ever since he assumed charge at Punjab civil secretariat where he told media that "what he did from 7pm to 6am should not be anybody's business"
After the report, Amarinder said there should not be "any hindrance now to Sidhu's continuation on TV shows".
He also said that there would not be any need to change his culture portfolio.
The AG was asked by Amarinder to offer his legal opinion on whether there was any prohibition or restriction in the continuation of Sidhu's work as celebrity guest on a comedy show.
Most Punjab ministers had rallied behind Sidhu, saying he was only earning his livelihood by doing the shows.
"How does one live without adequate income? asked Punjab power minister and MLA Rana Gurjit.
Earlier Amarinder even said, "Do those opposing his TV shows want to make ministers corrupt by stopping them from earning their livelihood?"
Feb 19 2015
Rules restrain mantris from accepting expensive gifts
The code of conduct for ministers issued by the home ministry clearly restrains both Union and state ministers from accepting a valuable gift unless it is from a close relative. “A minister should not accept valuable gifts except from close relatives, and he or members of his family should not accept any gifts at all from any person with whom he may have official dealings,“ reads the code of conduct.
The authority for ensuring observance of the code of conduct lies with the PM in the case of Union ministers, the PM and home minister in the case of CMs and the CM concerned in case of state ministers.