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Let Foreign Lawyers Practise in India, Says CJI JS Khehar

The Supreme Court Collegium is led by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar. (Getty Images)

The Supreme Court Collegium is led by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar. (Getty Images)

Entry of foreign lawyers has been a contentious issue of around two decades now with India's lawyer groups opposing it.

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India J S Khehar on Saturday said he supported opening up India's legal sector to foreign players and will improve the system. Speaking at a seminar here, the CJI said that Indian lawyers should shed their apprehensions and lap up this opportunity instead.

"International exchange of lawyers will improve the system. If anybody thinks foreign lawyers will come to India and snatch the business, it’s not correct. Indian lawyers are no less than them," said the CJI.

He emphasized that letting foreign lawyers and law firms gain entry into India on a "reciprocal basis" will help Indian lawyers practise in foreign courts and get immense exposure.

"In fact, I think when our lawyers appear in foreign courts, they will take away a lot of business of foreign lawyers," said Justice Khehar. He said that such a move will be in the interest of competitiveness. "I impress upon all the stakeholders to have a debate on this," added the CJI.

Entry of foreign lawyers has been a contentious issue of around two decades now with India's lawyer groups opposing it.

Opposed to the view that is that in the era of global integration, legal services should not remain closed for foreign lawyers, Bar Council of India has argued in the Supreme Court that foreign lawyers cannot be allowed even to chip in for seminars and conferences, let alone be allowing their firms to advise clients or participate in arbitration proceedings or as BPOs and LPOs (legal process outsourcing companies.

Later, the BCI sought to revise its position months government's asking it agreed "in principle" with the government's proposal to gradually open up the legal sector to foreign players but insist that this should be on a reciprocal basis. A draft legislation was also prepared last year by the BCI but there has been no movement ever since.

first published:July 08, 2017, 14:19 IST