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Gov tells SC: Closing liberalisation issue at ‘earliest possible’ of 'utmost importance'

Government hints strongly it wants to move on with liberalisation debate
Government hints strongly it wants to move on with liberalisation debate

The government has moved for an early hearing in the Bar Council of India (BCI) AK Balaji appeal in the Supreme Court, reported Bar & Bench.

The application for early hearing by the government, filed by advocate Mukesh Kumar Maroria, was filed on 26 May 2017, according to the Supreme Court website.

The application, according to a copy obtained by Bar & Bench (see below) states that: “It is submitted that the civil appeal is very unlikely to be listed in the immediate future and the matter being utmost importance in the present time, it is necessary to be decided at the earliest possible.”

“It is submitted that as per online case status, the Civil Appeal has no future date of listing and for hearing and hence the present application praying for early hearing of the matter and for any other appropriate orders as this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case,” added the application, asking the Supreme Court to fix a specific date “considering the importance and urgency of the matter”.

The case is currently tentatively listed for hearing on 28 August 2017, as the registrar in an order dated 12 July called for all parties to file their statement of case within the statutory period, after which the case should be listed before the court.

The original petition, which had been filed in the Madras high court by local advocate AK Balaji against dozens of foreign firms, was decided in 2012 but has seen very little action or love by the Supreme Court after the BCI's appeal.

It has, however, seen the intervention of a group of Indian lawyers represented by senior advocate Harish Salve, batting for the foreign law firms.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar earlier this month spoke out strongly in favour of liberalisation at a function, closely followed by the BCI deciding that it and state bar councils would continue to wholly oppose the Law Commission's reform proposals of the profession, which included liberalisation under the auspices of a reformed BCI.

In a survey, 9 out of 10 Indian general counsel (GC) said they wanted foreign law firms to enter, while the Society of Indian Law Firms (Silf) has tried figuring out its strategy of opposition to deal with signs that the government might allow foreign law firms to enter via special economic zones (SEZs).

Balaji SC application by Gov't for Early Hearing (via Bar & Bench) (PDF)

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