On 2nd July 2021, the Bar Council of India released the Draft of the Advocates Protection Bill 2021. A seven-member committee had been constituted to frame the bill keeping in mind the problem and adversities faced by advocates and their families.
Now question arise what the reason behind to introduce “The Advocate Protection Bill”? Answers is simple as the officer of the court Advocate should be safeguard by the law while Advocate protecting the rights of individuals. Certain case arise where Advocate force to disclose client privilege inform which is against the Advocate profession ethics, people target the Advocate in false case if advocate did not win the case or beat the Advocate in worst case scenario. The main reasons for the bill is stated to be the protection of advocates and to remove obstructions in the discharge of their duties.
Main points laid down by the “The Advocate Protection Bill” are as follows:
- Act of violence: Any act these include all such acts committed against the advocates with an intent to prejudice or derail the process of impartial, fair and fearless litigation. These ‘acts’ could be of threat, harassment, coercion, assault, malicious prosecution, criminal force, harm, hurt, injury etc. that potentially impact the living and working conditions of advocates. This also includes loss or damage of property. These offences are to be cognizable and non-bailable.
- Punishment and Compensation: Sections 3 and 4 sated the punishment and compensations. Punishments can start from 6 months and extend upto 5 years; and for subsequent offence, upto 10 years and not less than one years. Fines start at Rs.50,000 and goes upto Rs.1 lakh; and for subsequent offences fines can go upto Rs.10 lakhs and not less than two lakhs. The Bill also empowers the court to award compensation to advocates for the wrongs committed against them.
- Investigation by Officer above the rank of DSP: The bill proposes that the investigation in these offences shall not be done by any person below the rank of Superintendent of Police and must be completed within 30 days of the registration of the FIR. The bill also proposes the right of police protection to advocates, upon proper investigation by the court.
- Redressal Committee: The next important provision in the bill is that of constituting a redressal committee. A three-member committee for Redressal of Grievances of Advocates and Bar Associations has been provided at each level i.e District, High Court and Supreme Court. The head of this committee is to be the head of Judiciary of that level such as District Judge for District Level, Chief Justice or his nominee for High Court level and CJI or his nominee for Supreme Court level.
The appointment of the remaining two members is to be done by nomination by the respective Bar Councils. The president of the Bar Council shall be the Special Invitee at the meetings of the redressal committee.
- Protection Against Arrest and Prosecution: Section 11 provides that “No Police Officer shall arrest an Advocate and/or investigate a case against an Advocate without the specific order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. When information is given to an Officer-in Charge of a Police Station of a commission of any offence by an Advocate, the Police officer shall enter or cause to be entered the substance of information with a book to be kept by such officer and refer the information with other connected materials to the nearest Chief Judicial Magistrate, who shall hold a preliminary inquiry into the case and the Chief Judicial Magistrate concerned shall issue notice to the advocate and give opportunity of hearing to him or to his counsel or representative.
- Protection Against Suits: No suit is to be instituted against a lawyer who has been working in good faith. Communications between the advocates and their clients must be respected; confidentiality must be protected.
- Police Protection: If advocate believe his life in danger or anyone can cause hurt or grievous hurt, he can make an application for police protection before the High Court of the State within which he is registered to practice law.