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Protection to Advocates

Recent incidents of attacks, usage of criminal force, and threats to advocates have increased insecurity in this profession. Advocates play a very vital role in the judicial system of the country and in prevailing justice using their professional knowledge. These professionals face a lot of hurdles in performing their duty in the courts. All this resulted in the need for some laws for the protection of advocates as there does not exist any law which provides such protection.

For the purpose of drafting a law in this regard Bar council of India has constituted a seven-member committee. On 2nd of July 2021, the Bar council issued Advocates Protection Bill, 2021 for resolving the problems and difficulties faced by advocates. The purpose of this proposed legislation is to ensure smooth and easy completion of tasks by advocates without hindrance.

This bill is drafted in compliance with the 8th United Nation congress on Prevention of crime and treatment of offenders. India being a member of this congress accepted the 'Basic principles of the role of lawyers.

After this proposed law, lawyers can perform their vital role in society without hindrance and fear of threats, attacks, and violence against them.

Need of the bill:
A protector also needs protection in society. The need for this bill arises to provide protection from offenses of threats, criminal force, assault, grievous hurt, and criminal intimidation against the advocates and also to the property of advocates from damage or loss and from other matters incidental or connected therewith. The Supreme court of India has also said that advocates are the officers of the court, so need protection to serve society in an effective manner and to meet the ends of justice.

This law is also needed to provide social security to the advocates and to ensure a basic and minimum standard of living. Supreme Court has also observed in a case that the profession of advocacy is elite in society. Advocates also face frivolous prosecution while performing their duty in the courts. For securing the ultimate cause of rule of law and justice an advocate must be fearless while discharging the duty. The property of advocates also needs protection from threats, damage, or loss.

There are several incidents of violence and attacks on advocates in recent times. A case of kidnapping and murder of an advocate was reported in Pune by three men in October 2020. Another incident of illegal detention of an advocate by police officers was also reported in Noida.

All these resulted in the need for this bill for the protection of advocates.

About Rajasthan Advocates Protection Act, 2023:
Recently in 2023, Rajasthan has become the first state of India to pass the advocates protection bill in the state assembly for the protection of advocates from threats, criminal force, assault, grievous hurt, criminal intimidation, and protection of property and family. The attention of the Rajasthan government shifted to this concern after a one-month-long protest by advocates. The protest was the result of a brutal murder of a lawyer by two men in Jodhpur. Advocates in the state did the protest seeking enactment of the act. Bar association of the state also supported the same. Bar association of India also urged the government for passing the proposed bill.

Finally, after a long time struggle the bill is passed by the state assembly using the voice vote method on 21st of March 2023.

Features of the Act:
  • The name of the act may be called the Rajasthan Advocates Act, 2023.
  • The act extends to the whole of the state of Rajasthan.
  • Section 3 of the act provides protection from acts of assault, grievous hurt, criminal force, and criminal intimidation against the advocates. These acts are deemed to be an offense under this act if done in the discharge of the duties of an advocate.
  • Section 4 provides for police protection to advocates. This section entitles an advocate to demand police protection in case he complains regarding the commission of any offense under section 3 of the act. The granting of protection is the discretion of the police depending on the seriousness of the case.
  • Section 5 provides for penalties for the commission of any offense under section 3 of the act. The penalties under this section are not minor instead are major. This section provides for three kinds of penalties (1) the acts of assault or usage of criminal force against advocates in contravention of Section 3 shall be punished, (2) the act of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to advocates in contravention of section 3 of the act shall be punished, (3) act of voluntarily committing the offense of criminal intimidation against advocates in contravention of section 3 or causes destruction of property or any other loss of such nature shall be punished.
  • Section 6 provides for prompt investigation in case of offense against advocates. This act states the offenses as cognizable offenses meaning thereby the police have the power to investigate the matter without the permission of the magistrate so that the action could be taken promptly.
  • Section 7 of the act provides for the compounding of the offense under this act. If an offense is committed against an advocate and the aggrieved is ready to compromise the offense, it could be done but with the permission of the court.
  • Section 8 contains provisions for compensation. If the court has awarded a fine for the offense against an advocate, then in this case the court can order that the fine awarded shall be paid to the advocate as compensation. This section is very important for the protection of the interests of advocates.
  • Section 9 provides for additional damages. If any loss or damage has occurred to the property of the advocate, then the court can order additional damages and medical expenses can also be covered under this.
  • The main highlight of the act is that it is not in derogation to any other law in force for the time being and will be applicable separately

The act is a very significant step towards the protection of the advocates in society. The act tries to provide a very safe and secure environment for lawyers. But this should not be done by the individual state government, rather should be enacted on the central level. For encouraging legal attorneys to perform their duties and practice their profession with more freedom, it is necessary to implement the act in a proper manner.

Written By: Poshit Srivastav - Faculty of Law, DU

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