THE dynamic connection between the bench and the bar is essential to the legal system’s operations, taking place in the hallowed halls of justice where the lines between the right and the wrong are finely drawn. But there are moments when this partnership is not quite ideal.
Advocates, who are often referred to as officers of the court, play a vital role in ensuring the smooth administration of justice. Their expertise, dedication and unwavering commitment to upholding the law are essential compo- nents of a strong legal system. Therefore, it is only just that they are accorded the respect they deserve.
The behaviour of judges towards advocates is a topic of concern. While judges are entrusted with the solemn duty of upholding justice, their conduct towards lawyers can significantly impact the atmosphere in the courtroom. Passivity, arrogance, or any form of disrespect can undermine the trust and integrity of the proceedings.
It is worth noting that after retirement, some judges choose to embark on a legal career as advocates themselves. Their experience from the bench could be
an invaluable asset to the legal profession. However, the respect they receive from their fellow advocates is often tied to the respect they showed while serving as judges.
A just and honourable judge is the one who treats all lawyers and courtroom staff with respect, regardless of their status, experience, or the nature of the cases they handle. Such judges under- stand the importance of a congenial atmosphere in the courtroom, where advocates can present their arguments without the fear of having to face scorn. They fully recognise that respect is a two-way street, and by offering it to the advocates, they foster a culture of respect that transcends their judicial careers.
The legal community is a tightly-knit network, and the bonds forged during one’s legal career often extend beyond the courtroom. Mutual respect between the bar and bench is not only a profe- ssional obligation, but also a reflection of the principles of justice and fairness that underpin the legal system.
A fair and efficient legal system is built on the connection between the bench and the bar. Even though there may be instances of inappropriate behaviour and hurtful remarks, it is critical that judges and advocates keep the value of respect in their interactions in mind.
Respecting the law and treating all advocates equally and with dignity should be the cornerstone of a judge’s legacy in the legal community.
We cannot preserve the integrity of our judicial system and effectively further the cause of justice unless we have mutual respect for one another.
Advocate Hamlesh Khemani
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2023