Opinion: Advocates Protection Act, ensuring safety and upholding justice

Karnataka legislation served as a template for Center to take the crucial step towards safety and independence of legal professionals

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  14 Jun 2024 3:00 AM GMT
Opinion: Advocates Protection Act, ensuring safety and upholding justice

Hyderabad: Karnataka Prohibition of Violence against Advocates Act, 2023 (KPVA Act), which became effective on June 10, 2024, represents a crucial step towards securing the safety and independence of legal professionals. This landmark legislation not only highlights the urgent need for similar protective measures across India but also sets a precedent for safeguarding the integrity of the legal system.

Like Karnataka and Rajasthan, the central government and other state governments must enact robust legislation to shield advocates from intimidation and undue influence. Such protection is essential for the safety of advocates the preservation of the rule of law and the fair administration of justice.

Advocate couple killed in Telangana

The brutal killings of advocate couple Gattu Vaman Rao and Gattu Nagamani on February 17, 2021, in Pedapally district in Telangana, and many such violent attacks on advocates underscores the escalating violence against legal professionals in India. These incidents highlight systemic failures in protecting advocates who play a pivotal role in upholding justice and the rule of law. This violence not only endangers the lives of advocates but also infringes upon their constitutional rights under Article 19(1)(g) and 21, obstructing their ability to practice law freely and safely.

Independence of legal profession

The legal profession's independence is crucial for maintaining fundamental freedoms and human rights. In the landmark case of R. Muthukrishnan vs. The Registrar General of the High Court of Judicature at Madras (AIR 2019 SC 849) it is clear that independence of legal profession is important.

Justice cannot be effectively administered if advocates cannot act with necessary impartiality, integrity, and autonomy. This independence allows lawyers to serve their clients and society without fear of arbitrary prosecution or undue influence. Advocates can carry out their duties without interference from the state, society, or other actors, free from fear of persecution or coercion. The failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible for such violence and intimidation perpetuates a culture of impunity. It creates a climate of fear, discouraging lawyers from providing essential legal services. This neglect undermines the rule of law and restricts public access to justice, necessitating urgent action to protect legal professionals and uphold the integrity of our legal system.

Legal professionals are entitled to rights and protections under regional and international human rights treaties, ensuring their ability to operate without fear and contribute to a fair and just society. The independence of the legal profession is a cornerstone of democratic systems, as established by the 1990 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the 1993 Vienna Declaration on Human Rights.

Advocates Protection Bill 2021

In response to the increasing threats against Advocates, the Bar Council of India (BCI) drafted a model Advocates Protection Bill in 2021. This proposed legislation aims to ensure the safety and security of advocates and their families against crimes such as assault, kidnapping, and unlawful imprisonment. It also includes provisions for advocate safety, financial aid for those in need, and compensation for rights violations. Despite the BCI’s submission of this draft to the Union Ministry of Law, there has been no significant progress towards enacting a central law. The KPVA Act serves as a model, underscoring the urgent need for similar Advocates for Protection Legislation across India. Advocates across India, urge that this must be taken up by governments across different states and center.

The writer B.V. Seshagiri is a practicing advocate and socio-political activist, a law graduate and has pursued an 'Advanced Post Graduate Diploma in Criminal Law and Forensic Science' from the NALSAR University of Law in Shamirpet, Hyderabad.

Disclaimer: Views and Opinions expressed in the article are of the author and do not reflect the official position or policy of NewsMeter.

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