Rajasthan Advocates Protection Bill, 2023
The Rajasthan Advocates Protection Bill, 2023, was tabled by the Rajasthan government in the state legislative assembly on March 16. The Bill aims to prevent offenses against advocates, such as assault, grievous hurt, criminal force, and criminal intimidation, along with damage or loss to their property. The Bill was introduced in response to the increasing violence and false implications against advocates, which resulted in a deterioration of law and order and delay in the justice system.
The proposal for the Bill followed the stabbing of Jugraj Chauhan, a Jodhpur-based lawyer, by two men in broad daylight on February 18. Following the incident, advocates from several courts in the state called for a strike and an indefinite boycott of judicial work. They demanded a law for the protection of advocates and their families. On February 28, the Rajasthan High Court took suo-moto cognizance of the lawyers’ strike and reiterated that any attempt made to obstruct any lawyer or litigant from entering the court and appearing in the court to argue the matter would be viewed strictly.
Objective of the Bill
The objective of the Bill is to enact an effective law that prohibits increasing violence and false implications against advocates in the state. It aims to make offenses against advocates cognizable in the territory of Rajasthan, providing police protection to advocates. The Bill defines an advocate as someone who is entered on any role under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961.
The Bill provides for a maximum of two years imprisonment, along with a fine of up to Rs 25,000 for assault or criminal force against an advocate under Section 5(1). For voluntarily causing grievous hurt to an advocate, Section 5(2) provides for a maximum of seven years imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 50,000. Meanwhile, Section 5(3) punishes the voluntary commission of the offense of criminal intimidation against an advocate with a maximum of two years imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
Compensation and Damages
Section 8 of the Bill provides for compensation to advocates when a court imposes a sentence of fine or any other sentence of which fine forms a part. Section 10 states that in addition to the punishment specified in Section 5, the offender shall also be liable to pay for the loss or damage caused to an advocate’s property, as may be determined by the court. The offender will also be liable to reimburse the medical expenses incurred by an advocate.
Prosecution of Advocates
Under Section 9 of the Bill, advocates themselves can be prosecuted if a report of cognizable offense is received from their client or opposing client against an act done by the advocate during the discharge of their professional duties. The complaint may be registered only after an inquiry has been conducted by a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police within seven days.