Analysis of Advocates (Protection) Bill, 2021

The draft Advocates Protection Bill is aimed at ensuring adequate protection to members of the legal fraternity so that they can carry on their duties as officers of the court fearlessly, without having to worry about their and their family’s safety. In the press release, concerns raised regarding the risks faced by lawyers and inadequate legal measures in place to protect them have been reiterated. The objective of the Bill is to ensure greater protection of advocates and their functions in discharge of their professional duties. The Bill not only proposes to protect advocates from incidents of assaults and intimidation, but also aims at establishing a system for their social security. As per the Bill, whoever commits or abets the commission of an act of violence (other than grievous hurt) against an advocate will face punishment of imprisonment of minimum 6 months and maximum 5 years. That person will also have to pay a fine of minimum Rs 50,000 and maximum Rs 1 lakh.
A key factor is a recent spike in assaults, kidnappings, intimidation, and constant threats against activists. When the security of attorneys is jeopardized as a result of their work, the government must provide sufficient protection. Such a measure is required to safeguard activists. It further stipulates that advocates must be provided with social security and the bare necessities of life. The definition of “advocate” under Section 2 of the bill will be the same as in the Advocates Act of 1961. There, the term “advocate” refers to a person who has been registered as an advocate under the terms of that Act.
The term “acts of violence” is defined in the same section. All acts done against advocates with the purpose to bias or disrupt the process of impartial, fair, and brave litigation fall under this category. These ‘acts’ might include threats, harassment, coercion, assault, malicious prosecution, criminal force, harm, hurt, injury, and so on, all of which could have an impact on advocates’ living and working conditions. This also involves property loss or damage. These are to be cognizable and non-bailable offenses. Sections 3 and 4 discuss punishment and restitution. Punishments can range from six months to five years, with a maximum of ten years for repeat offenses. Penalties range from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1 lakh for the first offense, while fines for consecutive offenses can reach Rs.10 lakhs.
The bill also gives the court the authority to compensate advocates for wrongs done to them. “No Police Officer shall arrest an Advocate or investigate a case against an Advocate without the explicit direction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate,” according to Section 11. When an Advocate provides information to an Officer-in-Charge of a Police Station about the commission of any offence, the Officer-in-Charge shall enter or cause to be entered the substance of the information in a book to be kept by such officer, and refer the information with other related materials to the nearest Chief Judicial Magistrate, who shall hold a preliminary inquiry into the case. Following the hearing, if the CJM determines that the FIR was brought against the Advocate for malicious motives arising from the discharge of the Advocate’s professional responsibilities, the CJM will grant bail to the Advocate.
The statute also includes a significant provision for Social Security. In unanticipated events like as natural catastrophes or epidemics, the legislation recommends that the state and federal governments establish arrangements to offer financial help to all needy Advocates in the nation. Every month, a minimum of Rs.15,000 must be supplied. Section 12 states that if any public servant with investigative or arrest power under the CrPC is found in possession of or using in his investigation any privileged communication or material that can be shown to have been obtained from an Advocate, it is presumed that such privileged communication or material was obtained by coercion.

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