Why should you read this post?
Is it your first day at Court tomorrow?
You might be wondering how it looks, where everything is, and how the court works. Most people don’t know that Courts have a predetermined set of rules and regulations which the Bar & Bench must abide by.
In this post we will help you visualize the court before visiting it, to prepare you for your first time there.
A must-read for law interns!
Table of Contents
- Courtroom at first glance
- Basic Court Etiquettes
- Addressing the Judges
Courtroom at first glance
The Court premises are always flooded with people everywhere.
The Court comprises two components – the Bar and the Bench.
The first thing to notice is the Advocates, dressed up in black and white uniforms. The Court Complex/Building/Compound inside has various Courtrooms wherein the proceedings are conducted.
Advocate’s Dress code Law
The Advocates and Judges wear Bands on the collars of their shirts as prescribed under Section 49(1)(gg) of the Advocate’s Act, 1961.
The basis to differentiate advocates from interns is the Band that only advocates are entitled to wear.
Section 49 (1) (gg) of Advocates’ Act 1961 mandates it for “advocates” to wear bands. Advocates have acquired a license from BCI or State Bar Council. Interns are Lawyers, but they are not Advocates.
Click here to learn the difference between Advocates & Lawyers.
Interns are lawyers, thus, are not entitled to wear bands.
Two pieces of white cloth joined together form the advocate’s bands. It is said to represent Tablets of the Laws or Tablets of Stone. Christains believe these tablets were used by Moses while writing the 10 Commandments. These commandments are considered as the first example of a uniform coded law.
In the old English Courts, the barristers wore white bands as part of their uniform. Since they were the first lawyers of Indian Courts, their dress was adopted as a symbol for Advocates in our country.
One must be dressed appropriately in court. Modest clothes with sobre colours should be worn.
This dress code maintains the decorum in court.
Colourful, printed, fancy clothes are a no-go.
Not wearing the appropriate dress code would amount to disobeying the rules of the court which is known as contempt of court.
Under Section 12 of Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, the punishment of contempt of court is imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both.
Wearing decent and formal clothing is the way to go.
When you walk into the courtroom you will notice a raised platform where the Judge sits and presides over, which is called a Bench. Behind the bench there is a symbol of Ashoka Chakra or a picture of Mahatma Gandhi.
Judges have a separate entrance to the courtroom.
Section 49(1)(gg) in Part VI, Chapter IV of Bar Council of India Rules states that they dress in a black open breast coat, white shirt, white collar, stiff or soft with a band around the neck.
The placement of tables and chairs right in front of the Judge’s bench, where only advocates can sit is called the Bar.
There is usually a podium between Bar and Bench for the advocates to come forward and plead.
No seats for Litigants and Interns
The Advocates are seated in front of the Judge’s bench.
Advocates sit there waiting for their roll call. There is always a notice board in the courtroom clarifying that the chairs are only for advocates.
Litigants and Interns are not allowed to occupy the chairs for Advocates and if they do, they must vacate them for the Advocates that are standing. Any person other than the members of the Bar, is not allowed to occupy the seating facility and even if he does, he must vacate it for advocates standing. This is enforceable.
If you violate this, the court clerk can take cognizance and can book you under Section 282 of Indian Penal Code, which can put you behind bars for a term which may extend to 6 years or fine or both.
However, the Courts don’t usually ask law interns to get up from the seats owing to the courtsey of them being future member of either the bar or bench.
Impersonating an Advocate
Any person who impersonates an advocate will be charged under Section 416 of the Indian Penal Code.
The punishment for this offence is given under Section 419 which is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Next to the Judge’s bench is the desk of the Reader and opposite to him sits the Stenographer or Typist.
The job of the Reader is to administer the proceedings, calling parties forward, recording the next hearing dates, and putting up the case files before the judge which are fixed for hearing on the particular day.
Stenographers/typists type the orders dictated by the judge for cases, for records.
Appointment of Readers, Stenographers, Court clerks and other non-judicial staff members are appointed as per the specific rules laid down by states.
For example, Uttar Pradesh State District Court Service Rules, 2013, The Punjab Subordinate Courts Establishment (Recruitment And General Conditions of Services) Rules 1997.
The power of states to legislate their own rules is given to them as per Article 235 of the Constitution of India, 1949. The High Court has control over the officials and clerical staff attached to the District Courts and the Courts subordinate to them.
Court clerk is the person who maintains the decorum of the court.
He conducts roll calls, collects court fees and fines, informs parties about court timings and prepares the courtroom with paper, pen, water and electronic equipment.
One police man also got my attention as he was there looking at all case proceedings and at the conclusion of court he collected some orders from the Reader and left.
It came to my knowledge that he is called a Naib.
The policeman that attends the court proceeding till the end of the day is called Naib. His duty is to convey the court’s order to respective police stations. He works as the link between the court and police stations.
- You must observe silence during the whole court proceeding. Litigants are not allowed to stand in the courtroom unnecessarily. If the courtroom is overcrowded the court clerk may ask you to leave and it is well within his rights to ask. You must abide by the direction otherwise you know the penalty under Section 228 of IPC.
- If you are an intern, you must follow the proper dress code.
- During the presentation of the case and also while acting before a court, an advocate should act in a dignified manner. He should at all times conduct himself with self-respect.
The Advocates address the Judges as ‘Your Honour’, ‘Your Lord’, ‘My Lord ‘, or ‘Your Lordships’ (plural). And when they leave most of them bow down to the judge and utter ‘obliged’ or ‘thank-you’ as a way of being courteous.
The Bar Council of India in 2006 had passed a resolution prohibiting the usage of terms ‘my lord’ and ‘your lordship’.
A notice issued by Rajasthan high court said the decision was unanimously taken in a full court meeting on 14 July 2019 to “honour the mandate of equality enshrined in the Constitution”. 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 said.
Courtrooms have rules and regulations that need to be followed by members of the law fraternity as well as non-members.
The various roles of each member of the court such as the judge, advocates, readers, stenographers, etc have been given under provisions of the Advocate’s Act,1961.
The court as it is, is described so you can imagine it before you step foot in an actual court and are prepared.
The next time you visit a courtroom make sure to follow the above given rules to maintain the dignity of the courtroom.
Also, it is well within the interns rights to ask for Passovers but an intern cannot appear to present the case or even appear as a Proxy Counsel.
Do share your experiences with us in the comment section below because obviously you guys would have more interesting episodes to share.
Now that you know what to expect when you visit a court, we suggest you to observe the court in more detail and comment below your queries. You can email us at email@example.com or use #asklawbriefcase on Social Media.
Edited by Siddhant Pandey
- Knowing Dress Code of Indian Lawyers, Indian Law Match, https://indianlawwatch.com/practice/knowing-dress-code-of-lawyers/, last accessed 1-6-2020. ↑
- The Advocate’s Act, 1961 ↑
- P.C. Jose vs Nandakumar, AIR 1997 Ker 243, 1994 CriLJ 682. ↑
- Delhi District Courts Establishment (Appointment & Conditions of Service) Rules, 2012, https://delhicourts.nic.in/circulars/Jan14/Rules%20(1).pdf, last accessed on 05-06-2020. ↑
- Rules on Professional Standards, Bar Council Of India,http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/about/professional-standards/rules-on-professional-standards/, last accessed 23-05-2020. ↑
- Resolution No. 58/2006 of the Bar Council of India, https://www.indialawjournal.org/archives/volume4/issue_1/letter%20for%20legal%20wraps.pdf, last accessed on 05-06-2020. ↑