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