Published: 25th February 2021
DU Law student Shrikant Prasad who was pulled up by CJI Bobde: I address every judge as 'Your Honour', it's a respectable term
During the last hearing of Shrikant's plea, the CJI had asked to not call him 'Your Honour' and to use appropriate terms. He has filed a PIL to get the number of judges increased to clear pendency
Shrikant Prasad is preparing for a court hearing which has been listed four weeks from now. His arguments are in place, he knows what prayers to seek for, but at the same time, but he is probably spending more time practising something that he hasn't done before — addressing the judge as 'Sir' or 'My Lord'.
The last hearing of Shrikant's petition to increase the number of judges to redeuce pendency was on Tuesday — S A Bodbe, the Chief Justice of India, headed the three-judge bench that heard the plea. By force of habit, Shrikant, addressed Bodbe as Your Honour. He was immediately stopped by the CJI, who reportedly said, "When you say Your Honour, you either have the Supreme Court of the United States or the Magistrate in mind," and asked him to not use incorrect terms.
In response, Shrikant said, "I address every judge as 'Your Honour', I think it is an honourable and respectable term," says Shrikant, who is a final year law student of Delhi University's Faculty of Law. Did he think the rap on the knuckles was justified? "Many judges even ask us to not address them as 'Lordship' and say that they are not lords," he adds. The 24-year-old also points out that the CJI himself had in 2014, told a petitioner that he can address him as 'Your Honour'. "It somehow didn't hit me during the hearing," he says, blaming his memory.
Shrikant concedes that he may have just been a little 'too influenced' by the foreign law system. Try this on for size: He uses an alias called 'Barrister SP'. which he tells us that he has even copyrighted to keep others from using.
Shrikant had filed this particular petition on January 1, 2021 and appeared himself. The plea had sought 'to adopt various measures for expeditious disposal of criminal cases through the appointment of judges in subordinate courts in the proportion.' He explains the PIL further. "As far as I have researched and observed, around 2.99 Crore cases are pending before the criminal side of the subordinate judiciary. In 2002, there was a judgment in a case where the apex court had ruled that for every 10 lakh people, there should be 250 judges. However, in 2021, there are still only 19 judges for 1 million people," he says.
Now this, Shrikant says, is a violation of fundamental rights and is highly problematic. He says, "Even though it is a policy matter, it is a breach of a fundamental right for the people of India. The right to get a fair trial is a fundamental right. A delay creates mental harassment to the victims and the accused," he said. "This is a widely acknowledged matter and directions are issued here, but in no state in the country are judicial vacancies filled in a year," he says.
The next hearing is four weeks away and Shrikant is confident that the judgment will be in his favour. "Until now, there have been no directions with regard to the appointment of judges. Magistrates' vacancy should be filled after conducting an examination," he says. Someone who is quite passionate about criminal law and the Indian Constitution, he also has a YouTube channel where he simplifies the law and explains legal procedures for the common man.