In the light of the rising number of violence’s and atrocities against lawyers or their family members, the bill is introduced to safeguard them and freely discharge their duties.
For a state to work efficiently the police, judiciary and other persons including lawyers play a vital role. Even then lawyers are not given adequate protection.
Advocates Protection bill was issued by the Government on July 2, 2021 on the backdrop of rising number of violence and atrocities against lawyers and persons in the law field. The bill was drafted by a seven member team considering the difficulties and problems faced by the advocates and their families which prevent them from duly executing their tasks.
The bill is issued in the backdrop of United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders which took place in Havana, Cuba from August 27th to September 7th, 1990 and in which India participated and accepted the principles on the role of lawyers.
The bill specifies certain circumstances which prevents advocates from doing the duties. In recent times we have seen lot of incidents of kidnapping, threats, intimidation, malicious prosecution, harassment, assault and other incidents of atrocities against lawyers or their family members. Recently a corporate lawyer was attacked by a cyclist in Pune- Bengaluru Highway. In another horrific incident, three men were arrested for kidnapping and killing a lawyer and leaving the body in the forest in Pune. It was after such horrific incidents, the Government issued this bill.
Under the bill, the term advocate is defined the same as in Advocates Act, 1961 and the term violence is defined to include “All acts performed towards advocates with the goal to hinder or disrupt the practice of unbiased, fair, and honest litigation fall under this category.”
Section 3 and 4 deals with punishment and compensation. According to section 3(1), any person who commits the act or abets or aids in the commission of violence against lawyers will be punished with minimum imprisonment up to 6 months or a maximum up to 5 years. The fine can be from 50,000- 1,00,000 rupees depending upon the seriousness of the crime.
For second or subsequent conviction the imprisonment can be between 2-10 lakhs and/ fine above 10 lakhs. And if the damage is done to the property then the compensation amount will be twice the market value of the product. (Sec 4(3) ).
Now, who can investigate such cases? According to section 5(2) and (3) no police officer below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police can investigate the FIR filed under section 3 of the Act and it must be completed within 30 days from the date of FIR.
Section 5(4) says that, only District or Sessions court have the power to take cognizance of the case and not any court below it. Section 5(5) mandates that unnecessary adjournments should not be given.
For the redressal of the grievances the bill provides for the establishment of a three member commission at District, High Court and Supreme Court. The District Judge will be the head of the District committee whereas the Chief Justice of High Court or any person nominated by him shall be head of High Court Committee and the Chief Justice of India or any person nominated shall head of the Supreme Court Committee.
The communication between the lawyer and his client must be honored and protected. The lawyer must be prosecuted for cases conducted by him on good faith. As per section 11 no lawyer can be arrested without the permission of Chief Judicial Magistrate.
Thus, the Advocates Protection Bill is very useful and much needed for the protection of lawyers as there has been a rising number of violent incidents against them or their family members. On the other hand the chances of misuse is also possible. If implemented effectively it will encourage lawyers to practice their profession more freely.