Mumbai lawyer to file contempt proceedings against Bhardwaj

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Mumbai, Sep 26 (UNI) A senior lawyer in the Bombay High Court has moved the Attorney General's office seeking permission to initiate contempt proceedings against Union Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj over a statement regarding allowing foreign law firms to set up their offices in India, when the matter is sub-judice.

Adv M P Vashi, in a letter to the Attorney General of India, has said the Union Minister had no right to pre-judge the issue when the matter was sub-judice and the statement given by the Minister amounted to contempt of court.

It said the Union Law Minister wanted to influence the judgement of the court.

A city-based newspaper had carried a story based on Mr Bhardwaj's statement saying that the government had made up its mind to permit foreign law firms to set up offices in India in collaboration with their domestic partners.

The letter contended that the Union Law Minister, by issuing the statement, wanted to influence judgement of the court when the matter has been pending before the High Court, which was listed today for final hearing. With this, the Minister had committed a criminal contempt under section of the Contempt of Courts Act.

Adv Vashi requested the Attorney General to file a contempt petition against the Law Minister or in case, he was not inclined to initiate the proceedings, allow him to do so.

Meanwhile, a division bench, comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, today adjourned the hearing till October 8, on a petition filed by Lawyers' Collective, an initiative of some Mumbai-based advocates, challenging permissions granted to some foreign law firms to set up offices in India.

The petition contends that under section 29 of the Advocates' Act foreign lawyers could not be permitted to practise in India.


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