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Law min Salman Khursheed: Foreign lawyer entry ‘inevitable’ but up to bar & more, digested

Khursheed: Loves animals, theatre and Oxford.
Khursheed: Loves animals, theatre and Oxford.

Union law minister Salman Khursheed said that the entry of foreign lawyers should be left for the bar to decide, welcomed the All India Bar Exam (AIBE), said the government was thinking about reforming the collegium system of judicial appointments, while admitting that pendency was a huge problem, in an interview with legal website Bar & Bench published today.

Legally India brings you the digested read and highlights.

Judicial vacancies: Collaborating with high courts that “fast track court system is either institutionalized permanently or 10% extra judges be provided which is what the Supreme Court has desired. So, we are working on that”.

On the All India Bar Exam (AIBE): A “brilliant initiative” but should be made “really tough” instead of the “very cursory examination” it was currently.

On the entry of foreign lawyers: “This is a very sensitive and controversial issue. I have only said to the Bar Associations and the Bar Council, ‘Ultimately, it is your call.’” Not worth resisting “something that is inevitable”:

“Ultimately one day all of us have to open up, but open up when we have the sense that further protection is not necessary… I think this is something which needs to be debated widely in the bar council and the bar associations and ultimately the lawyers must take a call. I think some movement is taking place, some windows are looking like lights coming in from those windows, but it is too early to give real sense of direction. But I think cooperation and collaboration between lawyers in different jurisdictions including India-Australia and India– US seems to be going well. There are some issues on Europe and India, which I hope will also move in the same direction.”

Pendency of cases: “A very major issue… such as chaos on the roads in different parts of India… not how it should be, but you also know that’s how it is.” Need better infrastructure, such as IT for case management, better training for judges and lawyers, and government litigation policy [a Moily legacy]. Khursheed said he would achieve computerised case-statistics and standardised e-filing for all the 18,000 Indian courts in the next two years.

Appointment of judges: Need a “Judicial Appointments Commission” to replace the present dilatory collegium system for appointment of high court judges. “To have an alternative institutionalized system in which more or less the top judiciary will remain equally important, but the inputs that come at different points will all be put in at the same time… I will not bet on it right now. Let the final shape come in front of the public and stakeholders and see their responses.”

On the All India Judicial Services Bill: “Will take its own time”.

On the Judicial Standard and Accountability Bill: Currently stuck between demands from parliament for a regime that is a “lot tougher” and judges’ argument for no additional checks.

On potential Supreme Court judicial overreach: “I think that this is a very complex subject… its best to let things evolve and new adjustments and new boundaries can be done as we move forward.”

On social media and recent Twitter blocking of journos: “I don’t know. They may have been or they may not have been.”

Teaching at Oxford: Some of the best (three) years of his life.

On Salman Khursheed: Other than Oxford, loves theatre, his many pets and other wildlife too, including visiting sanctuaries in India.

Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

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