Do You Have To Say Your Honor In Court Room?

In India as a general practice judges are addressed as your Lordships or Your Honour in order to give them respect and special regard. In a nation like India Judiciary is viewed with regards and sanctity as it is a measure of last resort for any common man to get redressal of their grievances.  If the people of the country face any injustice towards them by another group of person or even by the state, it is the institution of judiciary where they can plea for the enforcement of their rights and can ask the judiciary to address any such injustice towards them.

Thus judiciary is a very significant pillar of any administration or governance and there will be chaos if this institution is disregarded. When a dispute between two parties is solved its decision is generally in favour of one party and against another. Sometimes judges enforce imprisonment in case of crimes along with the imposition of fine. Thus another party which is the offender is under obligation to respect the decision of the judge. A mindset amongst the people of the country is necessary to be set in which respect for the judiciary is deeply embedded otherwise contempt of court would be a common practice.

To nurture this mindset Judges are placed in a higher position and thus are highly esteemed individuals that is why the trend for addressing them as Your Honour or Your Lordship developed.  This makes the institution of Judiciary more reliable and ensures people belief in it. In India generally, judges of Apex Court are addressed as My Lord or Your Honour, a practice traceable from England. While adopting a resolution in April 2006, The Bar Council of India introduced Rule 49(1) (j) in the Advocates Act

As per this specific rule, Advocates can refer to the court as Honourable Court or can address it as Your Honour. If the court is a subordinate one the phrase ‘Sir’ or any analogous term of the regional dialect could be used. Bar Council of India gave the reasoning behind the introduction of this Rule and has held that such words (My Lord or Your Lordships) were “relics of Colonial Past” [1] However this resolution is not adhered to in reality and just remained on papers only.


Delhi High Court Judge Justice S Muralidhar had carried out to act on the resolution and urged advocates to abstain from using the phrase My Lord or Your Honour while addressing him.[2]Recently Rajasthan Court also issued a notice in which it was mentioned that they collectively took the decision for prohibiting the advocates from using the terms ‘My Lord’ or ‘Your Lordship’ and feel this decision is indeed in the spirit of our Constitution.[3]


Petition against Calling Judges as Your Honour, My Lord or Your Lordships.

A petition was filed by an advocate Shiv Sagar Tiwari in 2013 in the Apex Court which stressed that addressing Judges by the terms Your Honour, Lord or Your Lordships are fragments of colonial past which hints towards enslavement. The petitioner stressed that addressing the judges in such a conventional and historic manner should be banned. The petitioner contended that rules of Bar Council of India are generally adhered to by advocates, a particular dress code which is set by BCI is followed, for instance, in the same manner, the resolution of 2006 which refrained advocates to address judges as Your Honour or Your Lordships should also be pursued.

The petition called the terms Your Honour or Your Lordships as against the grace and prestige of our nation as these phrases give the sensation of enslavement and thus he submitted that use of these phrases should be banned in a court of law ensuring the dignity of our land. The petitioner prayed before the bench to issue the writ of mandamus and direct the advocates to adopt the BCI regulations and forbade them from using such terms.


The petition was first heard by the bench of Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi but after a brief hearing, he referred the same to the bench comprising Justice HL Dattu and SA Bobde.

The petition was rejected by the Bench. It laid down that such negative prayer which asks the Apex Court to direct the courts from desisting to use the word ‘Your Honour’ or ‘My Lord’ and banning the same is abhorrent. However, the bench said it is not mandatory for advocates to address the bench, Court or Judges as ‘Your Honour’ or Your Lordships’. They are only obliged to address the Court or Judges in a dignified and respectable manner.

It clearly depends to choose the phrase to address Courts provided the same must have the attribute of respect and dignity. They are free to use the term ‘Sir’ if they want to. It is totally on the advocates to choose the phrase which they find appropriate and they are not under any compulsory obligation to use the phrase ‘My lord’ or ‘Your Honour’ in courts. Thus the bench rejected the petition and summed up by saying if advocate chooses not to use terms ‘Your Honour’ or Your Lordships’ and instead addresses us by just saying ‘Sir’ respectfully, that is equally fine.[4]


The stand of different High Courts differs on this matter but stand of Supreme Court is clear on the issue and thus it left it on the advocate to choose the appropriate phrase when it comes to addressing the Court. The Apex Court has not made any compulsion or any prohibition in this matter. It only asked advocates to choose a respectable and appropriate way to address Judges and Courts. Judiciary plays a pivotal role in a democracy. It enforces the rights of people and ensures Justice to them. Judiciary is called as Guardian of our Constitution and our rights. It is a highly prestigious and esteemed institution and thus its representatives i.e. Judges and Courts are meant to be respected and addressed in a dignified manner.

[1] Rules of Bar Council of India

Consistent with the obligation of the Bar to show a respectful attitude towards the Court and bearing in mind the dignity of Judicial Office, the form of address to be adopted whether in the Supreme Court, High Courts or Subordinate Courts should be as follows:

“Your Honour” or “Hon’ble Court” in Supreme Court & High Courts and in the Subordinate Courts and Tribunals it is open to the Lawyers to address the Court as “Sir” or the equivalent word in respective regional languages.

EXPLANATION: As the words “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” are relics of Colonial post, it is proposed to incorporate the above rule showing respectful attitude to the Court.

[2]” (last visited 7June,2020)

[3] Notice no.788 ,Rajasthan High Court, Date:15/7/2019

[4]” (last visited 8June,2020)

This Article is Authored by Pooja Sharma, 2nd Year (B.A. LL.B) Student of University School of Law and Legal Studies (GGSIPU).

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