On Thursday, the Karnataka State Legislative Assembly approved the Karnataka Prohibition of Violence Against Advocate Bill, 2023. The Bill aims to address the threats and violence faced by advocates in the course of their professional duties, which may include malicious and frivolous prosecution by opposing parties. The objective is to safeguard advocates, allowing them to perform their duties without fear or external influence, thereby preserving the administration of justice.
The Bill was moved by State Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister HK Patil. According to the Act, an “Advocate” is defined as someone whose name is on the roll of advocates maintained under the Advocates Act, 1961, and holds a valid certificate of practice issued by the Karnataka State Bar Council. The term “Violence” is defined as any activity endangering the life or causing harm to an advocate, obstructing them from discharging their duty regarding pending litigation or cases before any court, tribunal, or authority.
The legislation makes every offense under this Act cognizable, and anyone found guilty under Section 3 could face imprisonment ranging from six months to three years, a fine up to Rupees One lakh, or both. Additionally, if an advocate is arrested for a cognizable offense, the police must inform the President or Secretary of the Advocates’ Association within twenty-four hours.
The Bill specifies that offenses under this Act will be tried by a court, not below the Court of Judicial Magistrate of First Class. These legislative developments follow an incident where an advocate from Chikkamangaluru was allegedly assaulted by a police patrol team on night duty, prompting protests across the Karnataka bar. Subsequently, the High Court initiated a suo motu PIL, and the investigation was handed over to the CID.
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