The State Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana has sent two drafts of the Punjab Advocates (Protection) Bill 2023 and Haryana Advocates (Protection) Bill 2023 to both the States of Punjab and Haryana demanding the enactment of the same at the earliest. It has warned of initiating peaceful protest by participating in a state-wide agitation if adequate steps are not taken for the same.

In its press note, it says, “There have often been serious recommendations and earnest requests from concerned quarters to create an instrument that would ensure respect, protection, and promotion of the ‘freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer’. There have been genuine concerns, with countless examples, highlighting how acts of violence aimed at advocates dwindles the access to legitimate representation and fundamentally compromises the rule of law. It is now being observed how attacks against advocates and cases of false implication against legal professionals have increased manifolds. Now more than ever, it has become imperative to prohibit acts against, penalise such acts and protect advocates while discharging their duties by enacting effective legislation making such offences cognisable in the territories of the states of Punjab and Haryana.”

It has been mentioned in the press note that there have been incidents of murder, violent attacks, grievous hurts, kidnapping, intimidation, etc. in different parts of Punjab and Haryana as well as in the parking of the High Court which have been reported to the State Bar Council by Bar Associations, individual lawyers or their families.

“The year 2023 alone, as reported so far, has sadly witnessed two broad-daylight murders of Adv Umesh Pal in Uttar Pradesh and the recent of Adv Virender Narwal in Delhi. The trend is clear: lawyers are under attack because of their work, and they need better legal protections to sustain the viability of justice delivery systems”, says the press note.

It further mentions that as per the last 2022 UN Report, in the decade from 2010 to 2020, more than 2,500 lawyers were killed, detained, or kidnapped around the world and since 2010, every year, the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer has been observed worldwide with the purpose to create awareness about the threat to the safety of lawyers.

“It is the obligation of the state to respect, protect, fulfil and promote the independence and security of lawyers, as well as their ability to perform their professional duties free from intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or reprisals from state and anti-social actors”, the press note also mentions.

The drafts of the Punjab Advocates (Protection) Bill 2023 and Haryana Advocates (Protection) Bill 2023 consists of the following important provisions:-

Section 3: Punishment in case of committing or abetting the commission of an act of violence against an advocate i.e., 6 months imprisonment which may extend to 5 years, and with a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh.

Section 4: Compensation by the person convicted for causing any act of violence against any advocate.

Section 5: An offence punishable under Section 3 shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

Section 6: Compounding of Offences

Section 7: Police protection to an advocate under the threat of being a victim of an act of violence.

Section 8: An advocate shall be deemed to be an office of the institution.

Section 9: Protection of action in due conduct of duties by advocates.

The State Bar Council has requested the states to consider their representation for the enactment of the Advocates (Protection) Act, 2023 at the earliest.

Earlier in March of this year, Rajasthan became the first State in the country to pass a law for the protection of Advocates. The Rajasthan State Legislature passed the Rajasthan Advocates Protection Bill, 2023 after it was tabled in the assembly, by voice vote.

Click here to read/download the Press Note