Foreign law firms are a threat to India’s sovereignty, says Delhi-based lawyer

Foreign law firms are a threat to India’s sovereignty, says Delhi-based lawyer

The seven-page representation, which has been also sent to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, by Advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak, stated that the power to recognise foreign degree qualification is not within the purview of the BCI alone and that the legislature is competent to enact a law on the issue in consultation with the lawyers’ body.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Monday, May 22, 2023, 09:34 AM IST
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Representative image | Fpj

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has received a representation from a Delhi-based lawyer saying that the recently notified Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, is fundamentally flawed.

The seven-page representation, which has been also sent to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, by Advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak, stated that the power to recognise foreign degree qualification is not within the purview of the BCI alone and that the legislature is competent to enact a law on the issue in consultation with the lawyers’ body. “…there is a fundamental flaw with this policy, which may be considered by this representation and then a decision may be taken following due procedure as to amend the policy, scrap it or re-draft the policy with due representations and consultation from our fraternity,” read the representation.

It further questioned whether the BCI maintains any roll of advocates who are directly registered with it and not the State Bar Councils. Terming the rules as “arbitrary”, the representation contends that it “creates a class within a class of advocates” thereby violating Article 14 of the Constitution. It pointed out that the BCI has power to make rules, however, the same is “limited to the disciplinary committee and allied powers”.

According to the representation, the BCI has not provided any ratio to clarify as to what number of registration of foreign lawyers will outnumber the Indian lawyers in non-litigation practice. “Also, in reference to the mode of registration of application under section 4(ix) of the rules, the BCI is not competent to confer upon itself the power to investigate the affidavit sworn in a foreign land hence this clause is also arbitrary,” it added.

Underlining that section 9(iii) allows indirect entry into litigious matters through the appointment of Indian advocates, the representation feared that the clause will be a threat to Indian sovereignty because then the control of foreign law firms will increase due to indirect channel entry.

The advocate has asked the BCI to respond to the representation within 15 days, failing which he will take an alternative legal recourse.

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