The British are long gone, but the “colonial hangover” of addressing judges as “my lord” and “your lordship” is hard to do away with – as the Bar Council of India (BCI) is discovering.
In a resolution passed seven years ago, the BCI had asked lawyers to ditch the address for the modern and respectful “sir”. But that, some lawyers fear, can have rather adverse effects.
The matter has now reached the Supreme Court, with a 75-year-old petitioner, Shiv Sagar Tiwari, contending the address is a “symbol of slavery and should be strictly prohibited as it is against the dignity of the country”.
Sharing his own experience with a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Tiwari said he had lost a case after he refused to address the judge as “my lord”.
The BCI supports the petition. “We have already said it is not necessary. Now it is for lawyers to decide,” said BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra. The decision of the lawyers, though, is not actionable, since “it cannot be termed professional misconduct”, he added. For now, all judges, Tiwari has contended, should emulate the example of Delhi high court’s Justice S Muralidhar, who insists on not being addressed as “my lord” and “your lordship”.