Advocate! A profession full of challenges, risks, and engagement. The joy of being an advocate might not match to other things because you will get the sense of accomplishment and justice while providing legal aid. However, people always look at the brighter side, what are the shortcomings of being an advocate? Why there was a need of Advocates Protection Bill? Does that mean professionals working for people’s justice are not getting the same? Does threat mandatorily comes with responsibility; it seems like the case for advocates.
In Rajendra Sharma vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, Etah Advocate was assaulted by the Uttar Pradesh Police in his house. Later a video of the incident went viral after which Allahabad High Court granted him bail. When advocates who are performing their duties with utmost sense of justice and are constantly working for the protection of laws are beated by public and police, it’s not the justice and humanity we as a normal citizen look for. Many such incidents took place in the past few years where advocates while on their duties were ill treated, threatened and many a time assaulted. There was an expeditious need of governing laws to protect lawyers.
The Bar Council of India (Governing body of Lawyers in India) took the stand and shared the draft of “Advocates Protection Bill 2021” on 2nd of July. A seven member committee was constituted for drafting the bill. The committee had office bearers and members of the BCI. Major objective to draft the bill was to make it easy for the advocates to perform their job, protecting them and their families as well. All the obstacles faced by the lawyers to perform their duties were kept in mind while drafting the bill.
Major Objectives of Advocates Protection Bill
Safeguarding Lawyers has been an issue these days as there is a rise in the cases of advocates being assaulted and threatened as a result of their professional duties. The Preamble states the objective of the bill that is to provide social security to the advocates for functioning and discharging their duties. The bill urges the government to take appropriate actions for protecting advocates and make sure that they can perform their duties smoothly. The preamble also has capacious nine points stating the objectives of the bill.
Legal Aspects of Advocates Protection Bill
The bill has many aspects to understand from the perspective of lawyers as well as other citizens/state employees. The bill has some technical jargons defined:
Term “Advocate” is defined under section 2 which is same to the definition of Advocates under the Advocate Act of 1961. Any person registered as an advocate under Advocates Act of 1961 is an authorized person acting as an advocate. Section 2 of the act also defines “Act of violence”. Putting it simply, any act done against lawyers negatively impacting their lives and working conditions would be considered as an act of violence. The act of violence covers the acts of threats, coercion, assault, harm, injury, hurt, harassment, malicious prosecution or property loss. The act of violence also covers any act done with the intention to disturb the process of fair litigation affecting its impartiality.
The Advocate Protection bill makes it more conscientious by making these acts non-bailable offenses. Any person obstructing an advocate’s legit duties performing the above mentioned acts can be held liable for the punishment of six months to five years (Maximum ten years in the case of repeated offenses). Fines range from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1,00,000 for the first time and can go upto Rs. 10 Lakhs for repeated offenses.
Advocates while working in a good faith cannot be sued for their work and the confidentiality of the communication between advocates and clients is to be looked positively. At last, the provision which is considered as one of the best rule to uplift the working conditions of advocates is the “Social Security”. The Advocate Protection bills have asked the government to make provisions regarding financial assistance (minimum of Rs. 15,000 per month) to be given to the needy advocates in the situation of natural disasters.
The Advocate Protection bill has both positive and negative outcomes. Advocate’s lifestyle is something that is definitely going to be changed. At last, a question remains unanswered: will these provisions be executed efficiently and are they going to provide advocates social security and financial aid. On the other hand it might be possible that advocates misuse these provisions for their personal benefits. In this case, the clients would turn out to be the sufferers. Any act has both sides of societal effects and so is the case with the Advocate Protection Bill, 2021.