Avoid honorifics such as ‘My Lord’, Karnataka HC judge urges advocates

Encouraging advocates to discontinue the colonial practice of addressing judges of the higher courts as “My Lord” or “Your Lordship”, Justice P. Krishna Bhat of the High Court of Karnataka on Friday urged them to use words like “Sir”, calling it more appropriate in the Indian circumstance.

The advocates were surprised to read the instruction printed on the daily cause list of Justice Bhat’s court hall for Friday. It was also put up on the court hall’s notice board.

“Learned counsel are requested to avoid addressing the court with such excessive honorifics as ‘My Lord’ or ‘Your Lordship’, but are requested to adhere to a practice consistent with the dignity and decorum of the court, which is more appropriate in the Indian circumstance, like ‘Sir’,” the note stated.

While commencing the hearing of cases on the day, Justice Bhat orally told the advocates that the note was aimed at ensuring a more contemporary way of addressing the judges.

BCI’s dilemma

The use of phrases such as “My Lords” or “Your Lordship” is debated often in the legal fraternity, and in early 2000 the Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) had passed a resolution that there was no need for lawyers to use such phrases.

In 2006, the Bar Council of India (BCI) passed a resolution exercising its power under Section 49 of the Advocates Act, 1961, stating that “My Lords” and “Your Lordship” were “relics of the colonial past”. It asked advocates to use “Your Honour” or “Honourable Court” in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. For other courts and tribunals, the BCI said that the advocates could use “Sir” or the equivalent words in local languages.

Y.R. Sadashiva Reddy, senior counsel and co-chairman of the BCI, said Justice Bhat’s note exhibited his humility and served as an encouragement for lawyers to change and be practical.

The BCI had, in 2019, again allowed the use of “My Lords” and “Your Lordship” in higher judiciary following complaints about disrespect shown while addressing judges.

Mr. Reddy said that senior advocates should lead the young ones by discontinuing the use of these terms and and students in law colleges should be taught against the use of colonial phrases. Since 2006, there have been instances of some judges of the apex court and the High Courts requesting advocates not to use colonial phrases.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 8:33:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/avoid-honorifics-such-as-my-lord-karnataka-hc-judge-urges-lawyers/article34337222.ece

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