Advocates Amendment Bill 2023

In the first week of August, the Rajya Sabha passed the Advocates (Amendment) Bill 2023. The bill amends the Advocates Act 1961 that seeks to regulate legal profession. 

Section 45 of the Advocates Act 1961 seeks to penalize any persons illegally practicing in courts and before other authorities.     

Section 45A has been introduced / inserted after section 45 that gives power to courts to deal with ‘touts’. The section defines ‘touts’. 

Explanation to Section 45A (d) “tout” means a person—

  • who procures, in consideration of any remuneration moving from any legal practitioner, the employment of the legal practitioner in any legal business; or who proposes to any legal practitioner or to any person interested in any legal business to procure, in consideration of any remuneration moving from either of them, the employment of the legal practitioner in such business; or
  • who for the purposes of such procurement frequents the precincts of Civil or Criminal Courts or of revenue-offices, or railway stations, landing stages, lodging places or other places of public resort.’.

Simply put, ‘tout’ means a person procures the legal business to a lawyer or a potential client in consideration of remuneration/commission/monetary consideration. For such procurement, such person or tout visits civil or criminal courts or revenue offices or railway stations, landing stages, lodging places or other places of public resort.     

The newly included section 45A states that:

  • Every District Judge, Sessions Judge, District Magistrate, Revenue Officer (not below the rank of a district collector) shall be empowered to frame and publish lists of persons, who if to his or their satisfaction or to the satisfaction of any subordinate court, either by evidence of general repute or habitually act as touts. Such list may be amended or altered from time to time.      
  • The authority shall hear such person before including the name on the list. 
  • Such list shall be displayed / hung in every court where it relates to
  • The Court may, by a general or special order exclude such person from the precincts / premises, any person whose name is on the list.
  • Any person who acts as a ‘tout’ whose name is included on the list shall punished with 3 months imprisonment or fine of Rs. 500 or both.   

The Section further defines:

  • “Judge” to mean the presiding officer in every civil and criminal court by whatever title designated;
  • “Subordinate Court” to mean all courts subordinate to High Court;
  • “Revenue office” to include all Courts other than Civil Courts trying suits under any law relating to landholders and their tenants or agents.

The amendment further states that once the section 45A comes into force, the following sections of the Legal Practitioners Act shall stand repealed:

Section 1 – Commencement of the Act
Section 3 – Definitions including  definition of ‘touts’
Section 36 – Penalties for touts      

The objective of the amendment is twofold:

  1. Repealing obsolete and British era laws such as the Legal Practitioners Act 1879 in consultation with the Bar Council of India. The relevant provisions have been included / incorporated in the Advocates Act 1961.
  2. To regulate and keep at bay ‘touts’. This is  to ensure that quality of lawyers and administration of justice is improved.

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