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Lawyers' Adieu To 'My Lord,' 'Your Lordship'

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 18: A notice is on the way to the Gazette, the publication of which will make such forms of address in Indian courts as 'My Lord' or 'Your Lordship' history, the Bar Council of India announced today.

''The rule shall come into force from the date of publication in the Official Gazette,'' a spokesman for the Council, a statutory body of India's nearly one million lawyers, said.

''The words 'My Lord and 'Your Lordship' are relics of colonial Past,'' Council Chairman Jagannath Patnaik said, citing a resolution adopted on February 11.

The new form of address in courts: 'Your Honour' or 'Hon'ble Court' in Supreme Court and High Courts and 'Sir' or an equivalent word in respective regional language in lower courts or tribunals.

This will be ''consistent with the obligation of the Bar to show a respectful attitude towards the court and bearing in mind the dignity of judicial office,'' a Council document said.

The Council resolution has been circulated to State Bar Councils, Bar Associations, courts and communicated to the Supreme Court Bar Association, Registrar General and High Court Registrars.

Recipients were given six weeks to respond, failing which ''it shall be presumed that your Council is in agreement with the Bar Council of India and that your Council has no opinion to offer.'' The Council communication acknowledged ''a general feeling that...

addressing judges as My Lord and Your Lordship are the perpetuation of the colonial legacy.'' It stressed ''Indianisation keeping in view the need for upholding the national pride and giving highest respect to the high offices of the judges and the Supreme Court and High Courts by addressing them in appropriate manner devoid of any reflection of colonial past.'' But it was not until September 1993 that the Council adopted a draft rule on the issue and sent it to then Chief Justice M N Venkatachaliah for approval.

The Bench replied that the Council was ''not correct'' in believing that the matter required the Chief Justice's approval.

That apart, the Bench did not concur that such forms of address as 'My Lord' or 'Your Lordship' were necessarily ''inconsistent'' with the requirement of ''respectful attitude'' towards courts.

The rule framed in 1993 was not given effect to.

Two months ago, the Supreme Court was petitioned on the issue by a group called Progressive and Vigilant Lawyers Forum. The petition was dismissed as withdrawn.

But the Bench observed that ''it is the collective wisdom of the lawyers. If you want to change the system then hold consultation with the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Councils in this regard.''


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