New Delhi: Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on Saturday sought to allay fears of Indian lawyers over the issue of allowing their foreign counterparts practice in the country, saying they are “no less" than offshore attorneys.
He said opening the doors of the courts for foreign lawyers will allow those here to improve themselves. “I feel that Indian lawyers are no less than any lawyer in the world. Therefore, if we have any apprehension that maybe somebody will come from abroad and snatch our profession and substitute us, I don’t think it’s going to be like that. I think we will go abroad and snatch their positions," he said.
During his inaugural speech at the “all India seminar" organized by the International Law Association in New Delhi, Justice Khehar said, “We will also learn from foreign lawyers. International exchange of lawyers will improve the system. Once you understand a new system, it will help us to improve ours." He also referred to the fact that many countries have been approaching India to open its courts for them, but till now, it is non-committal.
“The Bar Council of India (BCI) is opposing the move. The Advocate Act does not allow foreign lawyers to practice in India. However, it acknowledges that if some country permits Indian lawyers to practice in its jurisdiction, then lawyers from that country can be granted reciprocal privileges in India," the CJI said. “But, now it appears that the BCI and the Society of Indian Law Firms have agreed in principle that the government’s proposal to gradually open the legal profession to foreign lawyers but insist that this should be on reciprocal basis," he said. Justice Khehar also said the legal profession in India has possibly become the world’s largest and the most influential with regard to matters of governance.
He then dealt with the growing competition in the legal field saying the “profession has gone very aggressive" and in this competition, when stakes are so high, fairness has been “substantially compromised". The CJI, however, said that the competition has brought out the excellence in the profession. “When we hear matters, assistance is so profound. When you are hearing a Constitution bench issue, everything under the sky is brought into your notice," he said.