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Justice seen or done? / Issue 68

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter

All is calm and kites flew high over the Colaba slums this evening. In the absence of riots and overt discontent on either side, it is fair to say that the Allahabad High Court ruling in the Ayodyah case yesterday was diplomatically just, in deciding to partition the site of the demolished Babri mosque and the (now legal) birthplace of the god-king Ram into three parts.

Whether the decision was in line with the law is a story that the Supreme Court will now almost certainly have to decide, as lawyers pore over 10,000 pages judgments.

Click on through to download the verdicts, summaries and to re-live Ayodhya judgment day through our live blog, which like the High Court website briefly buckled under visitor traffic.

Although some lawyers hurried out of towns into the hills in anticipation of the judgment, others seized the week.

Former Luthra & Luthra corporate partner Vineet Aneja has set up a long-needed Delhi office for ALMT Legal. And if the word on the street is to be believed, ALMT’s best friend Clyde had quite a bit to do in giving the impetus to make it happen.

Meanwhile, start-up Argus Partners that has been shaking up the Kolkata market since emerging out of Amarchand a year ago, has now targeted Mumbai with the opening of a new office. The Kolkata market may have its unique appeal but the big-ticket transactional work is still tastier outside.

The India v. UK liberalisation talks seem to be in a phase of unintentional cold war at the moment.

The law ministry sent out a somewhat unexpected press release this week, which announced that the BCI was opposing the entry of foreign law firms. In the apparent absence of a recent BCI meeting on the matter, it may be fair to ask: “So what’s new?”

Cryptic as ever, the statement could either signify a further hardening of the lines or be the result of a round of lobbying. Or conversely it could be intended as a softening up of domestic lawyers, mentioning that the issue was subject to “rational scrutiny”. Two years anyone?

Meanwhile, the UK has unintentionally hit back with reciprocity. The exclusive Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) provider Kaplan has increased fees at least four-fold and discontinued the India test centre. Indian lawyers who want to practice in England will need to pass the test (once India is on the list anyway) but costs could now be prohibitive to those without job offers from foreign firms.

Although the SRA awarded the virtual three-year monopoly to Kaplan, to be fair the body did conduct a long consultation in 2008-09 with over 39 participants.

However, lack of consultation was the main objection to the BCI’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) request about the process that was followed to select a private contractor to assist with the bar exam. In fact, it appears that there was no process and no other suitable providers were looked at. The BCI also refused to disclose the commercial terms of the deal.

In light of the BCI’s apparent commitment to transparency – see the new video of the recent BCI robing ceremony and swearing of oaths – this reluctance is perhaps unnecessary and not helping appease conspiracy theorists.

Finally, this week India’s best legal bloggers were crowned with the big awards in what has easily been one of the most friendly and entertaining competitions this year in Indian law. Congratulations to the winners and all bloggers, we look forward to reading more of your pearls of wit and wisdom!

Mooting Premier League 2

The ultimate test of mooting prowess is gearing up, with an early leader emerging:

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