Underscoring the “mandate of equality enshrined in the Constitution”, the Rajasthan High Court on Monday asked all lawyers appearing before it to “desist” from addressing judges as ‘My Lord’ or ‘Your Lordship’.
The decision was taken unanimously in a meeting of the Full Court on Sunday. The high Court notice issued on Monday said: “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 Hon’ble Judges as ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship’.”
In 2014, a bench of Supreme Court Justices H L Dattu and S A Bobde had said it was the choice of the lawyers how to address them but the court was clear that it only wanted a respectful address to the chair, “All that judges need is a respectful and dignified way of addressing them. You don’t need to call us ‘my lord’ or ‘lordship’ always; calling us ‘sir’ is good enough for us”. The apex court observation was in regard to a PIL by advocate Shiv Sagar Tiwari, who had said it was a symbol of slavery and against the dignity of the country. The judges, however, did not issue an order reasoning that “can we say don’t address as ‘my lord’ or ‘your lordship’ or we would haul you up for contempt? No, we can’t be passing such orders”.
C L Saini, Chairman of the Bar Council of Rajasthan, said it is “better late than never”. “The graph of humanity will rise and will lead to better terms between the Judges and advocates,” he said, adding that BCI rules already say that it is not mandatory to address judges with the said titles.
Ranjeet Joshi, president of the Rajasthan High Court Advocates’ Association, Jodhpur, said, “It is a nice initiative since these words, introduced by the British, were a sign of slavery. ‘Sir’, ‘Shrimaan’ and ‘Your Honour’ are better alternatives to ‘My Lord’ or ‘Your Lordship’. The lawyers have welcomed the move and since it has been decided by the Full Court, its impact will be felt in other states too.”