‘My Lord’ in danger
APPRECIATION is due to Janab A.K. Dogar. Where he immediately can, the lawyer is striving to free us from British enslavement. He has been seeking banishment, from the higher courts, of titles as alien to us as ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship’, and pressing for the execution of an idea that was approved three decades ago.The decision to do away with ‘My Lord’ was taken in 1981 under Gen Zia.On Thursday, the Lahore High Court reserved the verdict on Mr Dogar’s petition in which he had also objected to bowing before the judges.
A person of Mr Dogar’s reputation inspires trust that no cut-down-to-size conspiracy is afoot. He has been very careful in presenting his argument and his points are not purely cultural. This should avoid a return to the pre-British Mughal durbar where the complainants and their counsels would exhibit greater flexibility than what goes into a simple bow as a sign of submission to authority. He did go off track somewhat when he suggested ‘sir’ as an alternative. ‘Sir’, to begin with, is a title considered more befitting a magistrate than a superior court justice. And ‘sir’ as a lesser British affliction would still be somewhat reflective of our captive mentality, unless we choose to follow it up with our own affectionate ‘jee’, in which case we would not really know whether we were showing ‘sir jee’ the reverence owed to him. ‘Janab-i-aali’ and ‘janab-i-waala’ are more home-grown and show respect without signifying total submission. These are two honorifics lawyers routinely use to address the bench. ‘My Lord’ is a more dramatic choice, a habit rather than a compulsion, which brings us to the same old assertion that not all debates require arbitration from busy judges. An awareness campaign in the bar would have sufficed.