A Bill which aims at regulating the legal profession by a single Act and seeks to target "touts" was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday with Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal saying there should be no role of such persons in the country's courts.
The Bill was already cleared by the Rajya Sabha in the Monsoon session.
This is the first bill passed by the Lower House of Parliament in the Winter session, which began on Monday.
Replying to a debate on the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Meghwal said this Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 3 and it was discussed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Bill provides that every high court and district judge can frame and publish lists of touts (those who procure clients for legal practitioner in return for any payment).
The minister also said that the Narendra Modi government has decided that colonial-era laws, which have no utility, should be repealed. So far, 1,486 such laws have been repealed and some are in the process of being repealed, Meghwal said.
"I will give you a description of the 10 years of the (Congress-led) UPA government. After Narendra Modi came to power, 1,486 laws were repealed. During the 10 years of Manmohan Singh ji, not even one such colonial-era law was repealed, which means there was no such thought on it," Meghwal said.
He also said the suggestion that there should be a policy on transfer of judges is very good. "We are accepting it and we will consult with the judiciary and the Chief Justice of India, and if a policy can be made on this, then we will work on it," the minister said.
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice and touts thrive because of the complexity in dealing with the legal system. "Because of the asymmetry in our society in terms of education, access to people in authority and wealth, sometimes people do not know how to navigate the legal system," he said.
"This is what is being exploited and some people step in as touts. Touts thrive because of the complexity in dealing with our legal system," the MP from Sivaganga said and urged the government to focus on the "big fish" rather than targeting touts in small courts.
Some members said the punishment prescribed in the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, against touts is very less and should be enhanced.
BJP member Jagdambika Pal said the whole House should welcome the amendments. The changes were also suggested by the Law Commission and the government has consulted all stakeholders before introducing the amendments, he said.
DMK member A Raja said the government is misusing Parliament by encroaching on the powers of states by bringing amendments that deal with state subjects. It is unfortunate that the government has not come up with the 'objects and reasons' of the Bill, he said.
The government, he added, has not come out with a clear law to deal with corruption in the judiciary. "This Bill has no meaning at all...the government needs to revisit the Bill and come up with something which is workable," Raja said.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the judiciary is still being treated as a last resort of affected people and added that the legal aid for the poor and vulnerable people should be further strengthened.
TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee said there is a need to remove "highly paid lawyers-cum-tout".
BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab said it is important to remove touts from high courts as well as the Supreme Court. Efforts should be made to promote digital interface between lawyers and clients, he suggested.
There is a need to bring a comprehensive measure to deal with the menace of touts in the larger interest of the people, Supriya Sule of the NCP said.
RSP's NK Premachandran said it was a small but important Bill as far as the advocate community is concerned.