Courtroom etiquette: India

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Addressing judges by name, wearing collarbands; long adjournments: Madras HC

The Times of India, Aug 25 2015

Don't address judges by name, HC tells lawyers

Don't address judges by name while arguing, remove your collarbands and no long adjournments -these were some of curt commands the Madras high court gave when two Madurai-based lawyers appeared before it in connection with contempt of court proceedings on Monday . On July 28, a bench of Justice S Tamilvanan and Justice C T Selvam had issued notices to Madurai Bar Association president A K Ramasamy and secretary A Dharmarajan, asking them why suo motu contempt proceedings of should not be initiated against them on the basis of reports from judicial officers and high court officials about incidents during an agitation by advocates in Madurai in the aftermath of a high court order making helmets compulsory for twowheeler riders from July 1.

Ramasamy addressed the lead ing judge by name and wanted early disposal of the case.Justice Tamilvanan asked him not to mention judges by name, and then agreed to hear the matter.

Later, he disallowed Ramasamy from advancing arguments after he informed the court that he had engaged Madras high court advocates association president R C Paul Kanagaraj as his counsel.He first asked Ramasamy to remove the collar band and then made it clear that he could not argue.

When counsel sought immediate disposal, the bench again said they have set out the charges and the contemnors should first file a counter-affidavit.Then their counsel sought adjournment by eight weeks. This was also disallowed by judges, who gave just a fortnight for them to come back and argue.

This infuriated about 50 advocates accompanying the Ramasamy and Dharmajan. They shouted slogans in the court corridor accusing some judges of misdeeds. They assembled near the Madras Bar Association entrance and vowed never to allow some judges to `come to Madurai'. They also chased a news reporter when he tried to photograph them.

Calling judges lord, lordship, your honour

Calling judges lord, lordship, your honour not mandatory: Supreme Court

PTI | [1] Jan 6, 2014

NEW DELHI: Judges should be addressed in courts in a respectful and dignified manner and it is not compulsory to call them "my lord", "your lordship" or "your honour", the Supreme Court today said.

"When did we say it is compulsory. You can only call us in a dignified manner," a bench comprising justices H L Dattu and S A Bobde observed during the hearing of a petition which said addressing judges as "my lord or your lordship" in courts is a relic of colonial era and a sign of slavery.

"To address the court what do we want. Only a respectable way of addressing. You call (judges) sir, it is accepted. You call it your honour, it is accepted. You call lordship it is accepted.These are some of the appropriate way of expression which are accepted," it said while refusing to entertain the PIL filed by 75-year-old advocate Shiv Sagar Tiwari.

The bench said his plea for banning the use of such terms and directing the courts that the judges should not be addressed in such a traditional manner cannot be accepted.

"How can this negative prayer be accepted by us," the bench asked, adding "Don't address us as lordship. We don't say anything. We only say address us respectfully."

"Can we direct the high courts on your prayers? It is obnoxious," the bench further said while making it clear that "It is for you to say Sir, Your Lordship or Your Honour. We can't direct how you have to address the court."

"It is the choice of the lawyer to address the court. Why should we say that brother judges should not accept being addressed as lordship. We have not taken exception when you call as sir," the bench said.

Male or female, judge is ‘Sir:’ HC

February 24, 2023: The Times of India


Ahmedabad : The debate over whether judges should be addressed with the British-era “My Lord” or “Your Honour” was briefly resurrected in the Gujarat high court Thursday and settled by a woman Chief Justice who favoured “sir” as a “gender-neutral” alternative.

A lawyer repeatedly addressed the division bench of Chief Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Sandip Bhatt as “Your Ladyship” during a hearing. When the bench pointed out that he should acknowledge both judges, the counsel immediately apologised.

On completion of the arguments in the case being he-ard, the lawyer apologised a second time to Justice Bhatt, saying his intention was never to address only one judge and that he should have used “My Lords” instead. CJ Gokani said the traditional refereneces were “too feudalistic” and “sir” would suffice.

Traditional address for judges colonial relics: Guj HC CJ

As the lawyer said he should have used “My Lords” to address the bench, Chief Justice Sonia Gokani said, “Many a times, in the General Clauses Act, we say he includes she; sometimes she includes he also.”

Citing former chief justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya of the HC on the issue of addressing judges, she said, “In the past, because there were no women judges, ‘Her ladyship’ was not something used to address the court or a judge.” At this, a senior advocate said “Her Ladyship” was surely not the correct way to address a woman judge. “Technically, it is ‘My lady’,” he said.

Chief Justice Gokani then said she believed the traditional appellations for judges were colonial relics and “too feudalistic”. “We believe it should be either ‘sir’ or ‘madam’... It should be sir. That is the right way of doing it rather than ‘My lord’ or ‘Your honour’. So let it be gender neutral.” When the lawyers said they had become so accustomed to addressing judges as “lordships” that shifting to “sir” or “madam” would be difficult, Chief Justice Gokani quoted a discussion at the National Judicial Academy, where another former chief justice, SJ Mukhopadhyay, noted that many lawyers in Gujarat had already switched to “sir”.
In 2006, the Bar Council of India passed a resolution saying, “Use of colonial relics like ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship’ should be discouraged.”

Mental and physical fitness tests for lawyers: SC

The Times of India, Sep 12 2015

AmitAnand Choudhary

Lawyers must face fitness tests to appear in court: SC

The Supreme Court has said that lawyers should be put to mental and physical fitness tests to be prove their eligibility to conduct trials in criminal cases and to ensure that litigants don't suffer on account of their incompetence.

A bench of Justices J S Khehar and Adarsh K Goel said the Advocates Act and the relevant rules needed to be reviewed to incorporate a provision for giving fitness certificate to an advocate to appear in court. The court's observation came while rejecting the plea of the Uber rape case accused who sought recall of witnesses on the ground that his lawyer was incompetent. “Perhaps time has come to review the Advocates Act and the relevant rules to examine the continued fitness of an advocate to conduct a criminal trial on account of advanced age or other mental or physical infirmity , to avoid grievance that an advocate who conducted trial was unfit or incompetent. This is an aspect which needs to be looked into by the concerned authorities including the Law Commission and the Bar Council of India,“ the court said.

The bench said the interest of justice would suffer if the counsel conducting the trial was physically or mentally unfit on account of any disability and this should not be allowed. “The interest of society is paramount and instead of trials being conducted again on account of unfitness of the counsel, reform may appear to be necessary so that such a situation does not arise,“ it said.

Sitting cross-legged in court

Vasantha.Kumar , June 20, 2022: The Times of India

Bengaluru: Many times, people sitting cross-legged in court halls are chided and told to sit properly, citing etiquette. This happens more in cases of people sitting opposite the presiding officer or judge. But ther e is no rule or order prohibiting people from sitting cross-legged in a court hall, the Karnataka high court has said in an RTI reply.

Responding to a query from T Narasimha Murthy, a resident of Halasuru in Bengaluru, the joint registrar and public information officer of the high court has recently stated, “No court orders, guidelines, notifications or di rections have been issued by the high court of Karnataka restricting citizens from sitting cross-legged during court proceedings. ”

Murthy had submitted an RTI application to the chief secretary’s office in 2019 on the same issue. The reply, then too, had said there are no rules in this regard.

The RTI applicant told TOI that he has seen such boards in many offices in Vidhana Soudha. In many police stations also he had seen instances of people sitting crosslegged being asked to sit properly. “Many people narrated to me incidents they had encountered about this colonial practice. Hence, I decided to get a clarification from the high court,” Murthy added.

He filed an application on May 27, 2022, seeking information regarding “any court orders, judgment, orders, guidelines, notification or direction from the HC of Karnataka… rest ricting citizens (from) placing or putting cross-leg while sitting inside the court hall during the proceedings”.

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