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9th December 2023 (9 Topics)

Advocates Amendment Bill 2023 passed

Context

The Advocates Amendment Bill, 2023, was recently approved by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament.

About

Aims of the Bill:

  • This legislative move aims to eradicate the presence of 'touts' in the legal system.
  • The Bill involves the repeal of the colonial-era Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, and amendments to the Advocates Act, 1961.

Repeal of Outdated Legislation:

  • The Bill marks the end of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, a colonial-era law deemed obsolete.
  • The repeal is part of the government's broader strategy to eliminate outdated laws and streamline the legal framework.

Reduction of Superfluous Enactments:

  • The primary objective of the Advocates Amendment Bill is to reduce the number of redundant laws in the statute book.
  • By amending the Advocates Act, 1961, the government aims to create a more contemporary and efficient legal framework.

Response to Societal Asymmetry:

  • MPs acknowledged the importance of the Bill in addressing societal imbalances.
  • The complexity of the legal system often leaves individuals without proper guidance, leading to the exploitation of people by 'touts.'
  • The Bill seeks to rectify this issue by eliminating such exploitation.

Repealed 1879 Act:

Definition of 'Tout': The now-repealed Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, defined a 'tout' as someone who, in exchange for remuneration, procures the employment of a legal practitioner in any legal business. This definition included individuals frequenting legal institutions for such purposes.

Advocates Act of 1961:

The Advocates Act of 1961 was enacted post-independence to regulate the legal profession effectively. While repealing a majority of the 1879 Act, certain provisions related to the extent, definitions, and powers to frame lists of 'touts' were retained.

Advocates Amendment Bill, 2023

Introduction of Section 45A

  • The Bill introduces a new provision, Section 45A, in the Advocates Act, 1961.
  • This section empowers High Courts and district judges to frame and publish lists of 'touts' after providing them with an opportunity to contest their inclusion.

Legal Safeguards

  • The new provision ensures that no individual's name is included in the 'touts' list without affording them an opportunity to present their case.
  • Authorities can send suspected 'touts' to subordinate courts for inquiry, and only proven cases will be included in the published list.

Penalties for Acting as a Tout

  • Section 45A imposes penalties, including imprisonment and fines, for individuals acting as 'touts' while their names are on the published list.
  • This provision mirrors Section 36 of the now-repealed 1879 Act.
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