Full time employee is not entitled to take up any other vocation, even arbitration

Delhi High Court: Deciding on a public interest litigation wherein relief was sought that no retired Supreme Court Judge can give chamber advice to any party and that no retired Supreme Court or High Court Judge will take up arbitration work while he or she is a Chairperson or Member of any Government appointed constitutional or statutory body, commission, commission of inquiry, tribunal or appellate body, the division bench of G. Rohini, C.J and Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, J observed that it is a settled principle of law that a full time employee, as certainly full time Chairpersons or Presidents or Members of Tribunals or Commissions or Statutory Authorities are not entitled to take up any other employment or vocation and certainly an arbitration would constitute an employment. The Court reasoned that a full time employee is expected to spend his energy and resources to his employment and should not divert to any other job or vocation.

In the instant case an affidavit was filed by the Under Secretary, the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice, and Government of India wherein it was stated that the issue of taking up arbitration work by the Chairpersons or Members of Tribunals and Statutory Authorities, while so functioning was under consideration and it was proposed to formulate a “Uniform Policy” regulation the terms and conditions of service of such authorities. Eventually the Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2014 had been drafted and was introduced in the Rajya Sabha which provided that no person while holding office as the Chairman or Member shall act as an arbitrator save that he may with the permission of the Central Government complete his uncompleted arbitration work at the time of appointment. The counsel for the petitioner contended that this delay on part of the legislature is resulting in members taking up arbitration work to the detriment of full time office held by them. While the learned ASG contended that the bill is still under examination.

Referring to a catena of cases like Sukumar Mukherjee v. State of West Bengal (1993) 3 SCC 723, Dr Haniraj L. Chulani v. Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa (1996) 3 SCC 342, the Court stated that it is no argument or consideration that the whole time authority would be acting as arbitrator only during the hours he is not working as Chairperson or Member. Giving further reasons, the Court said that giving any kind of directions would be overstepping the limits as the present issue falls in the domain of legislature and giving due respect to the doctrine of separation of powers respondents are directed to bestow special attention on the issue and to ensure that appropriate legislation is made at the earliest. [Common Cause v. Union of India, 2015 SCC Online Del 14003, decided on 11.12.2015]

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