Dealing with 'lords' and 'lordships' in Indian courts

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Dealing with 'lords' and 'lordships'
The age-old etiqquette of addressing judges as 'my lord' and 'you lordship' in Indain courts is slavery, alleges a petitioner at Supreme Court who wants the use of these words to be banned. The petitioner, a 75-yr-old lawyer, says these words are relics of the colonial era and they are against the dignity of the country.

Can't agree more.

The petitioner further says that an year ago he was reprimanded by a judge in a court for not using the word 'my lord'. Even lady judges are being addressed 'my lord' and not 'my ladyship'.

These words, by far, originated from a feudal construct. In India, infamous for caste and class divides, words like 'huzur' and 'sahib' are rampantly used. In village courts, judges are addressed 'huzur' and in small towns, it becomes 'your honour'.

Bar Council of India had passeda resolution in 2006 allowing lawyers to call judges 'sir' or 'Mr Judge' or any equivalent word. But most of the lawyers find it difficult to do away with the colonial practice.

Famous supreme court lawyer Fali S Nariman observes in his autobiography that most of the judges enjoys being addressed 'your lordship' or 'your honour' and find no fault in that.

And its a fact that some judges even keep grudge against lawyers who address them 'sir' or simply 'Mr Judge'.

However, not all the judges are pleased to be called 'my lordship'. Justice Kannan, a judge of Punjab and Haryana court, issued a circular in which he urged lawyers to do away with 'my lord'/ 'my lordship' and call him'sir' or 'Mr judge' or 'Justice Kannan'. This move was appreciated by many senior supreme court judges.

In 2006, Justice Chandru of Madras High Court asked lawyers to not address him 'my lord', quoting the 2006 Bar Council resolution.

In Madras High Court, judges enjoy other unique privilages too. They are led to the court hall by orderlies wearing ceremonial attires. The orderly runs in front of the judge through the corridor to warn people of 'your lord's' arrival.

These has indeed created another class struucture among people practicing same profession. This practice can also be seen in Indian army where officers are addressed 'Captain', 'General' etc, even when they are not on duty. The class structure in Indian army has often created news. Scuffles between jawans and officers are common incidents in India's defence wings.

If the apex court approves the lawyer's petition and bans the use of 'My Lord'/'MyLordship', it will be a milestone in the history of Indian judiciary. In a country where law treats everyone as equal, shouldn't lawyers and judges be treated as equal too?

OneIndia News

(With agency inputs)

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