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We have so many professionals’ degrees in our country being awarded by Institutes or Universities. Some of the well known professions in our country are Engineers, Technocrats, Doctors including Dentists and Veterinarians, Lawyers, Professors, Teachers etc. are few to name, but I am sure, the list will be long, if a realty check is done. All above class of professionals gets employed in private as well as government sector. In the Govt sectors, these professional are allowed to have different norms of practicing their profession in public life. A norm generally known as private practice is legally allowed for one class of professionals and is legally disallowed for other class of professionals. Are we not professing discrimination between two class of professionals in India. We all know that Doctors and lawyers, when employed in Govt sector, are doing private practice while when the same, if done by a Engineer or Technocrat, he is labeled as Corrupt ot BRASHT in our society. Why we have this different yard stick for different professionals in our country. A matter of proud for one professional becomes a corrupt way of living for other is not understood.


A Doctor when employed in a Govt hospital practices his profession from home also. Any one can see a board out side his residence proudly displayed with consultation hours. He may be getting a Non Practicing Allowance (NPA) also from his employers. But no one really bothers to see that whether that is legally allowed or not. His superiors supposed to enforce that simply turns Nelson eye because they themselves also may be doing the same in public life.


As per VI pay commission, Doctors get NPA at the existing rate of 25% of aggregate of Band pay  and  Grade pay subject to the condition that Basic pay + NPA does not exceed Rs 85000/-. The NPA is restricted to those medical posts for which a medical qualification recognized under the Indian Medical Council Act 1956 or under the Dentists Act, 1948 has been prescribed as an essential qualification.  The order is same for Veterinary posts also. State Govt, Public sector Bodies and Railways are also giving  NPA to their Doctors on more or less similar lines.


Govt. Advocates in our country profess private practice as well as counseling in our country. I do not know whether Law officers are getting any NPA or not, but they may be taking cases in court with certain conditions like with prior government permission or may not be taking cases where Govt  or  a Govt body has a preponderating interest. They also display boards outside their houses with counseling hours, so that public can approach them accordingly. Thus when they offer consultancy service to their private clients (other than Govt) in their profession with their wisdom, it is considered fair and not labeled as corrupt practice in our country.


The teachers and professors are known to give tuitions at home. No body ever thinks whether the activity is legal or not. They openly do this activity in their homes. More enterprising ones open Tution centers near to their homes for attracting maximum students. Some schools try to stop this activity but with out much success. The parents  feel more secure if their ward starts going for tuitions. University professors also carry out this activity with out any resistance from any quarter. They all consider it fair on their part to display their wisdom through coaching or tuitions with out ever thinking that such an activity is covered in their service rules or not. All earn this as tax free income and no one talks in terms of increasing corruption in our society.


Now take the case of Engineers and Technocrats in our country. If they are employed in Govt /PSU sector. They are not allowed to do private practice of their profession, they have learnt through years of hard work  with deep hole in their pocket. It is common knowledge that to get a degree in Engineering or Technology, a student has to go through some famous coaching institute for preparations, sit in multiple entrance tests, and when selected, with load of different types of fees make the course a very costly affair to afford. So when a Engineer or Technocrat employed in Govt sector tries to display his wisdom of his degree so obtained with so much labour, money and experience, he is not simply allowed and his employers teach him that such a practice is termed as illegal and corrupt.  After all, if a engineer or technocrat also starts making project reports or offer consultancy services from their homes for their private clients, un connected with their official work, why this is being labeled as undesirable way of earning by their employers. They can also be given permission with certain conditions as is being done in the case of Law officers by Govt.      


We shall not confuse `Private Practice` with Acceptance of  Fee and Honorariums in service rules for Govt employees. The first one is employee driven activity while second one is mostly employer driven activity. Acceptance of Honorarium is well known while acceptance of Fee is unheard for Govt officials.


An Honorarium is a recurring or non recurring payment granted to a government servant as remuneration for special work of an occasional or intermittent character, like performing work in election duties, translation work from regional languages to English /hindi or vice versa, giving lecture to other organizations or working as Invigilators in competitions, exams etc. The honorarium given varies from Rs 500/- per day to Rs 2000/- per day depending  upon the work, outside organization as well as employees designation or pay in service. But such works given to all and are not the domain of engineer or technocrat.


A Fee means a recurring or non-recurring payment to a government service from a source other than consolidated fund of India or a state or a union territory, whether made directly or indirectly through the intermediary of Government. The acceptance of fee is allowed under some conditions, but I have not heard a case where a CEO of a govt body had allowed his employee  to accept fee from a source other then given above.


Govt of India (DOPT circular of Oct 2008) also allows a Govt servant to act as `Arbitrator` in disputes between Govt of India and private parties or between private parties. The honorarium paid in such cases are Rs 500/- per month to Rs 10000/- per case. But such works are normally given to legal fraternity rather than technical luminaries.


Articles normally appear in various newspapers in India on the cause of Doctors saying private practice is no crime. A glimpse of news published in April 2011 in TOI is follows : `The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that government doctors defying the ban on private practice and charging consultation fee from patients in a clinic during spare time could neither be accused of indulging in trade nor be booked under the anti-corruption law`. No such news items ever appeared for Law officers or Professors or Teachers. Now the moot point is why one norm (private practice) is a boon for some select class of professionals and the same become bane for others class of professional like Engineers or Technocrats. May be free India is to see some more free years to have such liberal laws in our country.


By S C Khosla, Scientist `F`

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