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CJI Khehar: Foreign lawyer entry will be good • 1 day later: BCI condemns ‘draconian’ LC report wholesale

Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar, as probably the first sitting CJI having been reported to do so, as far as we are aware, said at a function on Saturday (8 July) that legal market liberalisation should take place.

According to News18 and others he said that if reciprocal entry of Indian lawyers abroad were ensured:

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.

In fact, I think when our lawyers appear in foreign courts, they will take away a lot of business of foreign lawyers.

I impress upon all the stakeholders to have a debate on this.

With the head of the judiciary now having publicly come out in favour of liberalisation and the government having made its intention very clear, the only significant public opposition to foreign lawyers entering appears to be the Bar Council of India (BCI).

Funnily enough, the BCI only one day after the CJI's remarks (probably coincidentally though you can never be sure) passed a resolution in which after a “two-day brain-storming session with various bar bodies of the country”, according to a report in the Tribune, it “unanimously decided to reject the draconian, anti-lawyer and undemocratic 266threport of Law Commission of India in toto”.

BCI secretary Srimanto Sen told the Tribune: “It was further resolved that the government be requested to not consider the 266th report of Law Commission of India at all.”

After the BCI's heavy agitation and strikes against the Law Commission amendments that's not entirely surprising (though the BCI's protest wsa primarily against the recommendation to strengthen regulatory mechanisms of the legal profession and to dilute the power of elected lawyer members in state bar councils).

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