HC Asks Delhi Govt To Hold Stakeholder Consultation on Draft of Advocates Protection Bill

The Delhi High Court Thursday asked the Delhi government to examine and hold stakeholder consultation on the draft of the ‘Advocates Protection Bill’ which seeks to protect and ensure a safe atmosphere for legal professionals in the wake of the killing of a lawyer in April.

The high court was informed that the Co-ordination Committee of District Courts Bar Associations in the national capital has prepared the draft of the bill and it has been sent to the Delhi chief minister and law minister.

“Let the same be placed on record along with the index. Let steps be taken by the Delhi government for examination of the draft bill and let stakeholder consultation be held by it.

“After the stakeholders consultation on examination of the draft bill, let the action taken report be filed. List on September 6,” Justice Prathiba M Singh said.

Advocate K C Mittal, representing the Co-ordination Committee of District Courts Bar Associations, informed the court about the first draft of the bill having been sent to the chief minister and law minister for consideration.

The high court was hearing a plea by lawyers Deepa Joseph and Alpha Phiris Dayal seeking enactment of a law for protection of advocates and ensuring a safe atmosphere for them.

On April 12, the high court had asked the Centre and the city government to respond to the petition and also sought a status report from the Bar Council of Delhi and the coordination committee, which submitted it is already in the process of drafting an ‘Advocates Protection Bill’ and holding consultation with public officials.

Advocate Robin Raju, representing the petitioners, had earlier informed the court that Rajasthan has already enacted a law for protection of advocates.

Advocate Virender Kumar Narwal, 53, was shot dead in southwest Delhi’s Dwarka by two motorcycle-borne assailants on April 1.

In their plea, the petitioners have said there has been an “alarming rise” in incidents of violence inside the court premises in the city and it was “high time now” for a decision to be taken for enacting a law to guarantee protection to the legal fraternity and help remove the fear that has got embedded in their minds.

The petitioners have stated their concern about their own safety has been “aggravated by seeing the visuals and video of the cold-blooded murder of an influential and senior member of the Bar”, and if such a bill is not passed in Delhi, the audacity of criminals to commit crimes against lawyers will increase.

“The scenario particularly post the death of advocate Virender Narwal has created an atmosphere that does not feel favourable to practice the profession without fear and hence it impinges upon the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business to all citizens under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and also violates Article 21 of the constitution that guarantees protection of life and personal liberty,” the petition said.

It said Rajasthan has already passed a law which provides for police protection to any lawyer who is attacked or against whom criminal force and criminal intimidation has been used while prescribing a punishment for the offender.

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It said advocacy is considered a noble profession which also involves risks and threats and a safe atmosphere is essential for practising the legal profession without fear.

“The petitioners are constrained to move this court as they have felt a sense of despair among fellow members of the Bar as well. The murder of Late Virender Narwal has compelled the petitioners to think about their own safety,” the plea has said.

“Only an Act that guarantees protection to the fraternity of lawyers practicing in Delhi will help remove the sense of fear that has embedded in the minds, particularly among young first-generation lawyers like the petitioners herein due to the repeated acts of firing inside court premises and altercations to state the least,” the plea has said.

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