Saturday, January 11, 2014

155. On use of honorifics

The Supreme Court has done well to clarify that lawyers and litigants need not address judges as 'my lord' or 'your lordship' and a simple 'sir' will do. It is amazing that the clarification on the honorifics that smack of colonialism and subservience has come more than 65 years after Independence. In today's world when expressions are getting more and more informal and realistic, it is ridiculous to use honorifics like 'my lord' and 'your lordship'. These appear to be so artificial and so stupid. 

The Supreme Court has not, however, banned the use of these expressions. I wish, the judges themselves take offence to the use of these expressions and treat it as an attempt to influence their judgment through needless sycophancy! Bar associations of the country should come out with guidelines to prevent use of these expressions by their members and should even think of making overuse of these expressions as one of the grounds on which the lawyers can lose their licences to practice ! Once deprived of the opportunity to practice law, they can pay as much respect to judges as they want.

There is no denying the fact that judges need to be treated with respect just as any human being needs to. In fact, they should be treated with more respect than other sections of the society. But to treat them like Gods and kings is reprehensible. Already, there are very strict contempt laws. There is such a thin line between criticizing judgments on merits and criticizing judges. Even a judgment that has inefficiency and lack of application of mind written all over it cannot be criticized for fear of attracting contempt of court. 

Judges also come from the society and they also have their share of the inefficient and the corrupt. But I hardly know of any action taken against judges for inefficiency and corruption. The process of impeachment that the Constitution of India prescribes for removal of judges is so difficult. What is the point in having a process that has hardly been used since Independence? Was the use of the process not necessary, because all judges have been above board? I doubt. Then, why not take a look at the process and make necessary changes so that it becomes implementable at least. Our Constitution talks of checks and balances, but where are the checks and balances? If the prescribed checks and balances are unworkable, naturally, there will be a tendency to put vulnerable people into positions.

By clarifying the position on the use of honorifics, the Supreme Court has made a good beginning towards bringing judges closer to the society. Hopefully, this is only the beginning and not the end.


Sandhya said...

Thank god, at least now they have taken steps to stop the artificial addressing. As you say they are not gods and we see many of them making mistakes like anyother ordinary person. This is more the reason to stop addressing them as 'sort of gods'!

Sai Charan said...

Glad that judges can be addressed normally from now :)

Well said - every human being in the society needs to be respected and judges are just as human.

Cheers!! :)