No law to bar Sidhu from do­ing TV shows, says HC

The Indian Express - - EXPRESS NETWORK - SOFI AH­SAN

CIT­ING LACK of le­gal pro­vi­sions to im­pose any re­stric­tion on Pun­jab’s Lo­cal Bod­ies Min­is­ter Navjot Singh Sidhu’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a tele­vi­sion pro­gramme, the Pun­jab and Haryana Court on Thurs­day said the un­der­ly­ing ques­tion in the is­sue was one of pro­pri­ety and self-re­straint ex­pected from peo­ple in pub­lic life.

“We have no doubt it is a se­ri­ous is­sue, but how far can the court ex­tend its ju­ris­dic­tion?” the two-mem­ber bench of Jus­tice S S Saron and Jus­tice Dar­shan Singh ob­served dur­ing the hear­ing of a plea seek­ing di­rec­tions to re­strain the min­is­ter from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the en­ter­tain­ment pro­gramme. “We can­not start moral polic­ing on politi­cians. Af­ter all, they are elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives. We may agree, but tell us how do we le­gally en­force it,” the court said.

How­ever, the judges said there had to be some self-in­grained dis­ci­pline in pub­lic ser­vants be­cause peo­ple em­u­late them. “You can have some kind of self-re­straint,” it said dur­ing the hear­ing that lasted for about two hours.

The pe­ti­tioner, ac­tivist Hari Chand Arora, who has filed a PIL, has sought the court’s di­rec­tions to re­strain Sidhu from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tele­vi­sion pro­gramme and also an ad­ver­tise­ment for a de­vice on English learn­ing, say­ing it vi­o­lated the code of con­duct and con­ven­tions gov­ern­ing peo­ple in pub­lic life . The HC bench ob­served Sidhu was en­gag­ing in the pro­gramme as an artist and the pro­duc­ers had no busi­ness in Pun­jab gov­ern­ment.

Ad­vo­cate Gen­eral of Pun­jab Atul Nanda ear­lier con­tested the va­lid­ity of the pe­ti­tion and said the con­duct rules only ap­plied to civil ser­vants, and not politi­cians. “The pe­ti­tion is mis­con­ceived. The pe­ti­tioner has re­lied upon the con­duct rules which are not sup­posed to ap­ply to the min­is­ter,” Nanda ar­gued. “These rules are not meant for min­is­ters. To­mor­row, the pe­ti­tioner would say he should not cam­paign for his po­lit­i­cal party.”

Nanda said the be­hav­iour ex­pected from pub­lic fig­ures was sub­jec­tive. “I may ex­pect some­thing from the Prime Min­is­ter of this coun­try... ex­pec­ta­tions will change­fromper­son­top­er­son,but where will it stop,” he said.

The court has ad­journed the PIL for hear­ing to Au­gust 2.

Navjot Singh Sidhu

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