File photo of India's Supreme Court in 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.
The apex court did not accept the advocate's contention that when the rules of Bar Council of India making it mandatory to appear in courts in a particular dress code were followed, the BCI's resolution of 2006 saying that nobody will address the court in India as 'my lord' and 'your lordship' should also be accepted by courts across the country.
The advocate had sought the apex court's direction to strictly prohibit the use of 'my lord' and 'your lordship' in courts alleging that "it is against the dignity of the country."
"Using the words 'my lord' and 'your lordship' which are symbols of slavery should be strictly prohibited to be used in the courts throughout India as it is against the dignity of the country," he had submitted during the last hearing on November 11, 2013 before a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
However, after brief hearing, Justice Gogoi had recused himself from hearing the case and the matter was referred to the bench headed by Justice Dattu.
Tiwari had said that Justice S Muralidhar of Delhi High Court has acted on the resolution and he insists that no advocate address the court by 'my lord' and 'your lordship'.
"The petitioner submits that the same principle should be adopted by all the judges in the judiciary including the Supreme Court, high courts and subordinate courts," he said, adding "My Lords or Your Lordships are signs of relics of colonial posts which in other words are symbol of slavery".
"Unless this court issues a writ in the nature of mandamus, the judges in the courts and the advocates appearing in the courts will not follow the amended Bar Council of India Rules which are mandatory now," Tiwari had said in his petition.