New Delhi–Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar on Saturday supported entry of foreign lawyers into Indian legal sector but said there should be “reciprocity” between two countries.
Justice Khehar said that opening up India’s legal sector to foreign players would improve the system and Indian lawyers should have no apprehensions that they would take away their business.
“I feel international exchange of lawyers will improve the system. If anybody thinks foreign lawyers will come to India and snatch our professional positions and substitute us, it’s not correct. Indian lawyers are no less than those across the world,” said the Chief Justice.
“But reciprocity has to be insisted upon,” added Justice Khehar while inaugurating an “All India Seminar of the International Law Association”.
He said the Indian legal profession had grown over a short period of less than 70 years “to possibly become the world’s largest and most influential in the matter of governance”.
“With the advent of globalisation, the legal profession in India has undergone a major shift during the last two decades. Economic liberalisation has given an opportunity of constant interaction with foreign law firms and an international clientele. As a result, there has been a transfer of knowledge, systems and practices to Indian law firms, such that they are able to undertake a much larger role in cross-border transactions,” he said.
Justice Khehar said that while the Bar Council of India had been opposing the entry of foreign lawyers into Indian legal system, but now the body acknowledges that if some country permits Indian lawyers to practise in its jurisdiction, then lawyers from that country could be granted reciprocal privileges in India.
India has close to 1.2 million lawyers, whose professional conduct is regulated by the Bar Council of India and the state Bar Councils.