Keeping in view "the Eight United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba from 27 August to 7 September 1900" and Supreme Court's significant observation in the case of Hari Shankar Rastogi v/s. Giridhar Sharma, (1978) 2 SCC 165 "Indeed, the Bar is an extension of the justice system; an advocate is an officer of Court and a master of an expert but more than that accountable to the Court and governed by a high ethic.
Need of the Advocate Protection Bill -
The success of the judicial process often depends on the services of the legal profession" The Advocates (Protection) Bill, 2021 with 14 sections was brought into consideration.
The Bar Council of India released a draft of the Advocates Protection Bill 2021 on 2 July 2021. A 7 member committee was nominated in order to frame the bill, keeping in mind the challenges faced by Advocates and their families for discharging their duties. The Major reason for the Bar Council to introduce the Advocates' Bill is the threat, criminal intimidation, and assault caused to advocates resulting in a deep sense of fear in their minds.
The Advocate Bill format consists of - objects of the bill, the definition of Violence, punishments for the offenses, Compensation, police protection, and many more.
The Object of The Bill -
The recent incidents of assault and intimidation caused to Advocates have reached an alarming height. In order to protect Advocates from the said assaults, it was necessary to enact legislation to protect them.
Moreover, as per Clause 17 of the declaration as mentioned above
"Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their duty, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities."
Another issue that Advocates frequently face is the threat of frivolous prosecution by the rival parties, who intend to interfere with their duties' performance and ultimately hinder the administration of justice itself.
Definition of ACT OF VIOLENCE under the Advocate protection bill 2021
Section 2 (1)(a) Act of Violence refers to any action against any advocate with an intention to prejudice impartial and fair litigation before the Court or tribunals. The Acts against the Advocates will consist of the following.
Coercion, harassment, or threat impacting his life or work;
Preventing an Advocate from discharging his duties;
A grievous or simple hurt within the premise of the Court or otherwise;
Any kind of coercion that may result in the revelation of confidential information;
Any Kind of coercion not allowing the Advocate to appear before the Court, tribunal, or authority to plead or appear on behalf of the client or to withdraw his Vakalath;
Loss or damage of document or property which such Advocate is bound to hold under the law;
And usage of derogatory language during the course of court proceedings.
Punishments and Compensation for offenses
Section 3 of the Advocate protection bill deals with the Punishment for offenses.
Section 3 (1) anybody who commits or abets the commission of Violence against an advocate except grievous hurt is punishable with imprisonment of not less than six months but may extend to five years, and a fine up to 1 lakh.
(2) Anybody having already been convicted under this Act is convicted for the second offense shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to 10 years and a fine not less than 2 lakh rupees.
Section 4 of the Act deals with Compensation for an offense.
Section 4 (1) anybody who is convicted under the Act shall also be liable to pay compensation for causing an act of Violence against an Advocate. The amount of compensation shall be determined by the Court.
(2) In case of property damage, the Compensation shall be twice the amount of fair market value of the damaged property or the loss caused, as may be determined by the Court.
(3) Upon failure to pay the compensation award, such amount shall be recovered as an arrear of land revenue under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1890.
Provision and Nature of Offence and Jurisdiction of Courts
Section 5 contends that offenses u/s shall be cognizable and non-bailable, and it shall be investigated by police officers, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police. And the investigation shall be completed within 30 days from the date of registration of FIR.
No Court below that of District and Sessions Judge shall have the jurisdiction to try any offense punishable u/s 3. And the concerned Court shall conclude the case within one year; in case of failure to conclude the case within one year, then the Judge shall record the reasons for not having done so. Lastly, the said period may be extended by not more than six months.
Section 7 of the Advocates' Bill deals with police protection to Advocates:
Any Advocate who is under the threat of the Act of Violence shall be entitled to police protection after making an application before the concerned HC. The HC shall scrutinize the application in order to check its bonafide nature.
The Superintendent police shall not withdraw, discontinue or hold the security unless a one-week notice is served to the Advocate.
Malicious Prosecution of Advocates
Section 10 :
(1) Where someone against an Advocate initiates any legal proceeding, suit or proceeding is found to be vexatious in nature or with a malicious intention to derail the process of impartial and fearless conduct of any litigation before any court, tribunal, or authority in which such Advocate is engaged, or, is an act of retribution towards the outcome of proceedings before any of the above forums, the said proceedings shall be liable to be dismissed, with costs.
(2) And such person shall be liable to pay compensation, as may be determined by the Court, which amount shall not be less than Rs.100,000/-.
Application of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Section 14 states that the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974) shall apply to the proceedings before the Court.