In a recent development, the Central Government has introduced the Advocate (Amendment) Bill, 2023 to amend the Advocates Act, 1961.
The bill aims to make significant changes, specifically focusing on making the act of ‘Tout’ punishable and repealing certain provisions of the outdated Legal Practitioners Act, 1879.
The bill states that all aspects covered under the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879 are already included in the Advocates Act, 1961, except for matters related to ‘touts’. It further mentions that all sections of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, except sections 1, 3, and 36, have already been repealed as per the Advocates Act, 1961.
The Advocate (Amendment) Bill, 2023 introduces a new section, Section 45A, titled ‘Power to frame and publish lists of touts’. This section makes the act of being a ‘tout’ punishable by imprisonment for up to three months, a fine of up to five hundred rupees, or both. The bill defines a ‘tout’ as a person who, in consideration of remuneration, procures the employment of a legal practitioner or proposes such employment to any legal practitioner or interested party in any legal business. It also refers to individuals who frequent court premises, revenue offices, railway stations, and other public places to engage in such activities.
The new section empowers various authorities, including the High Court, District Judge, Sessions Judge, District Magistrate, and Revenue officers, to frame and publish lists of individuals proven, through evidence of general repute or habitual activities, to act as touts. The lists can be amended as necessary.
Moreover, the bill explains that if a resolution is passed by a majority of members of an association of legal practitioners declaring an individual to be or not to be a tout in a specially convened meeting for this purpose, it shall serve as evidence of the general repute.