Opening legal sector to foreign players will benefit Indian lawyers: CJI Khehar
J S Khehar said even though BCI has agreed “in principle” with the proposal to gradually open up the legal sector to foreign players, it should be done only on a reciprocal basis.india Updated: Jul 08, 2017 22:31 IST
Chief Justice of India J S Khehar on Saturday endorsed the opening up India’s legal sector to foreign players, saying that Indian lawyers will benefit from the international exposure.
“I feel that Indian lawyers are no less than any lawyers in the world. Therefore, if we have any apprehensions that somebody will come from abroad and snatch our professional positions and substitute us, I don’t think it is going to be like that,” the Chief Justice said, quipping, “I think we are going to go abroad and snatch their positions.”
Foreign lawyers are barred from practicing in India under the Advocates Act. Foreign governments, through representative bodies, continue to lobby for opening Indian legal services to foreign competition. But the Bar Council of India, which regulates close to 1.2 million lawyers in the country, has been opposed to the idea.
However, last year, BCI proposed new rules to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to set up offices in India after registering with it. BCI is of the view that the professional conduct of foreign lawyers and foreign law firms will go unchecked if they are not enrolled under the Advocates Act.
Chief Justice Khehar said even though BCI has agreed “in principle” with the proposal to gradually open up the legal sector to foreign players, it should be done only on a reciprocal basis.
“So, if some country does not allow us, then possibly it may be difficult for us to allow them or for the Bar Council of India to agree to that,” Khehar said at the All India Seminar of the International Law Association in New Delhi.
“But given the opportunity to go and practise abroad, I think this opportunity should never be missed,” he said.
The Chief Justice also welcomed the idea of India becoming a signatory state to the Hague Convention, which deals with the issue of child custody of parents living abroad following a matrimonial discord.
India has not ratified the Hague Convention for multiple reasons, primarily because it is disadvantageous to Indian women, as there are far more cases of Indian women escaping bad marriages abroad and returning to the safety of their homes in India, than non-Indian women married to Indian men leaving India with their children.