LEGISLATIVE UPDATES -
THE RAJASTHAN ADVOCATES PROTECTION BILL PASSED BY THE RAJASTHAN STATE ASSEMBLY ON MARCH 21, 2023.
There have been numerous attacks on advocates across the country in recent times, with attackers having various motives and intentions. In response, Bar Associations across the country have campaigned to enact the Advocate Protection Act. In the past few months, there have been many examples where there were attacks on advocates, a few of them being the Adv. Umesh Pal’s murder in Uttar Pradesh and the murder of another advocate in Jodhpur, Rajasthan resulting in state wide protest. Consequently, the Bar Council of India requested the State Government of Rajasthan to draft laws that can guarantee the safety and security of advocates. On 23rd March 2023, history was made by the State of Rajasthan by becoming the first State to pass the Advocate Protection Bill which will is enacted as The Rajasthan Advocate Protection Act, 2023.
The Act aims to prevent offenses of assault, grievous hurt, criminal force, and criminal intimidation against the advocates, in connection with the discharge of duties as an advocate:
Analysis of some of the key highlights of the Act are:
i. Section 3- Any act of assault, grievous hurt, criminal force, and criminal intimidation against an advocate will be deemed to be an offense under the Act if such an act is in connection with the discharge of duties of the advocate in court premises.
ii. Section 4- If an advocate complains to the police regarding any act mentioned in Section 3, the police are to provide the lawyer with protection, if deemed fit.
iii. Section 5(1)- Assault or criminal force against an advocate would lead to a maximum of two years imprisonment, along with a fine of up to ₹25,000.
iv. Section 5(2)-The act of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to an advocate would lead to a maximum of seven years imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹50,000.
v. Section 5(3)-Voluntary commission of the offense of criminal intimidation against an advocate would result in a maximum of two years imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹10,000.
vi. Section 6- All offenses under the bill have been made cognizable. A cognizable offense enables the police to arrest without a warrant or prior permission of the court.
vii. Section 11- If any provisions of the act are misused, the guilty party would be punishable by up to 2 years of imprisonment.
Furthermore, the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council has sent two drafts Punjab Advocates (Protection) Bill, 2023 and Haryana Advocates (Protection) Bill, 2023 to the concerned State Governments for enactment of the bill. The Bar Council of Delhi has also constituted a special committee to draft an advocate protection bill in view of recent attacks on advocates inside and outside of the court rooms. Therefore, this step taken by the State of Rajasthan motivated other states to pass Advocate Protection Bill in their respective jurisdiction. An officious way, however, would be the Union Government passing a uniform protection act to ensure the safety and security of the advocates.