Judges of the Rajasthan High Court passed a resolution advising advocates to refrain from addressing them as “My Lord” and “Your Lordship”, a practice that dates back to India’s colonial past that the judges said wasn’t in keeping with “the mandate of equality enshrined in the Constitution”.
Other courts, including the highest in the land, the Supreme Court of India, have expressed similar sentiments in the past, but none has done so through a resolution passed by all judges (the so-called full court) of a high court.
On July 14, all the judges of the Rajasthan high court met and unanimously resolved that the old and archaic practice of addressing judges as “My Lord” or “Your Lordship” must be done away with.
“To honour the mandate of equality enshrined in the Constitution of India the full court in its meeting dated 14.07.2019 has unanimously resolved to request the counsels and those who appear before the court to desist from addressing the honourable judges as ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship, ” reads the resolution, put out by the Registrar General of the high court.
According to one of the judges who attended the meeting: “The resolution is basically an advisory to the advocates to do away with using terms such as `My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship’. There is no compulsion on lawyers to follow the resolution and they are free to use any respectable form of address.”
Interestingly, the present Chief Justice of Rajasthan high court, Justice Ravindra Bhatt, passed a similar advisory for advocates, when he was a judge of the Delhi high court.
In 2007, Justice Bhatt and Justice Dr S Muralidhar of the Delhi high court put out a note in the Daily Cause List of their respective courts which said: “Advocates are requested to try and avoid addressing the judges as ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship’.” In 2009, a judge of the Madras high court, Justice Chandru said the same thing in a direction to lawyers.
The legal fraternity welcomed the move.
Bar Council of Rajasthan chairman, Chiranji Lal Saini, said: “It is a much-needed move and should have been done long back. It is a step in the direction of humanity.”
Advocate AK Jain said the Bar Council of India (as far back as 2006) and the Supreme Court (in 2014) had already given directions in this regard but welcomed the move by the high court: “It’s good that the judges are thinking about equality which is enshrined in our Constitution.”
In the past, the Kerala high court bar association, the Bar Council of India (BCI) have passed similar resolutions.
Advocate Abhinav Sharma pointed out that while “BCI has already passed a resolution in this regard, it is still not being followed in many courts. So it is a good thought given by the chief justice (of the Rajasthan high court) and other judges to put it down formally in writing”.
In 2014, the Supreme Court observed that it is not compulsory to address judges “Your Lordship” or “Your Honour”, but added that they should be addressed respectfully.
Jul 16, 2019 07:21 IST