Law to Weed out Touts is Inadequate and Needs to be Done More

The presence of touts is ubiquitous in any court, be it district, High Court or even the Supreme Court. Why only courts- this is a common sight of any government office dealing with the public. So much so, even in the hospitals, touts rule the roost. Police stations remain hovered by the touts all the time. Even an FIR cannot be lodged without the help of the touts. As far as the courts are concerned, touts are found on all their gates itself. Many advocates depend on them because it is they who bring cases to them and in return get good commissions. Many touts have their own independent offices, and they operate by giving a façade of computer operators or typists. That is why, the Advocate Amendment Bill 2023 passed by Parliament the other day is a welcome law.
Verily speaking, the judicial system is swamped with touts. The definition of tout that has been given in the new Advocates (Amendment) Bill of 2023 is ‘a person, who procures, in consideration of any remuneration moving from any legal practitioner, the employment in any legal business.’ It further says that ‘who for such procurement frequents the precincts of Civil or Criminal Courts or revenue-offices, or railway stations, landing stages, lodging places or other places of public resort.’ The need for bringing in changes in India’s judicial administration was felt immediately after independence. The Law Commission was tasked with preparing a report on reforms. In its 249th Report titled ‘Obsolete Laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal’, the Commission recommended repealing the 1879 Act. Additionally, the All-India Bar Committee made its recommendations on the subject in 1953. Taking these into account, the 1961 Act was passed.
However, this Amendment is inadequate unless the judges and advocates come forward to root this out, it will be highly impossible to get rid of this disease. The new provision, Section 45A, states that the Bill enables every HC and district judge to frame and publish lists of touts.
However, no person’s name will be included in any such list until they have had an opportunity to show cause against such inclusion. Further, any authority empowered to make lists of alleged or suspected touts can send them to any subordinate court, which, after holding an inquiry into the conduct of such persons, will allow them an opportunity to show cause. After this, the lower court will report back to the authority ordering the inquiry. If proven to be a tout, the person’s name will be included in the list of touts that will be published by the authority and hung in every court. The court or judge may exclude any person whose name is included in any such list from the court’s vicinity. Additionally, this provision punishes anyone acting as a tout ‘while his name is included in any such list’ with imprisonment up to three months, a fine that may extend to five hundred rupees or both.
Touts are, in fact, all-pervasive. They are present at the houses and offices of ministers/ politicians, who not only make money but also allow the touts to make money due to their influence and proximity to powerful politicians. The names of the touts can be published by the courts but what about touts who are Ll. B degree holders and work in the garb of advocates? These people work as middle persons for the judges and the advocates, which is monetarily and mutually beneficial to both. It may sound strange, but it is a fact that touts are operating even at the famous temples, and they swoop on pilgrims at the bus stations, inside the trains and railway stations or near the temples.
Apart from the effective laws, what is needed is general awareness among the people. The administration has to have determination and necessary firmness in dealing with the pests of touts. But then the administration itself will have to cure itself from the infection of touts. If the senior advocates and judges do not show any leniency towards touts, more than half the problem will be automatically solved.
The decision of the government to repeal all obsolete and superfluous laws, which have lost their utility, which is often used by insensitive officers is also a welcome step. In the process, more than one thousand laws have already been abrogated but hundreds more need to be consigned.