Bar and Bench are two different elements with a common objective of administering justice in society. Bar, the term finds its origin in England, was used to differentiate a group of lawyers from a group of court officers. It is a group of lawyers enrolled with the state bar council who have permission to practice the profession in court. In simple terms, Bar is a place where lawyers take their place in a courtroom. The Bench is a place where judges take their seats in the courtroom. It is applied to differentiate between judges and attorneys.
It is an association of lawyers established with the meaning to promote professional ability, enforcement of standards to ethical conduct, the encouragement of the spirit of public service among the members who practice the legal profession. In India, Bar Council was established as a statutory body under the Advocates Act,1961 aiming to regulate legal education and the legal profession. Its members are the lawyers from India and prescribe the qualifications, duties, etiquette, discipline, and conduct of lawyers.
A place where justice is administered by either judge or judges of the court. Bench could be in court or tribunal. The bench where the judge sits should showcase the position’s respect and dignity.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BAR AND BENCH:
Bar provides the foundation for the stability towards the independence of the judiciary. Bench reflects its action carefully as it is a senior figure to lower rank judicial officers who learn from it. Bar and Bench are two sides of the judiciary that works together to deliver justice in society and ensure no delay in justice due to adjournments of hearing. An advocate who outraged the court by removing the foundation of the court, such an act of an advocate only results in dishonouring the system for justice administration. An advocate must respect the honour and dignity of the Bench. A judge must perform his duties fairly, non-bias, are held liable for their judgments in the court of law. In L.M. Das v. Advocate General Orrisa1 believed that advocates play an important role in the practice of achieving justice. In another case of the Madras High court, it was held that to administer justice it is essential to have Bar.2
The relationship between bar and bench must not act as a hindrance to the administration of justice, in the case of P.D. Gupta v. Ram Murthi and others3, Shri Krishna Das had died leaving immovable property that led to disputes. Among all those who claimed the property, there was a woman named Vidyawati. The lawyer of Vidyawati purchased the property and later on sold it to a third party. A complaint was made against the lawyer in Delhi Bar Council as the lawyer was enrolled in Delhi. Court held that any complaint made before the disciplinary committee must be resolved within a year and the Bar Council of India later enquired into the case and resultantly expelled him for a year. Before practicing any other right given to Bar by law the advocate practice the Right to be heard in courts to perform its role play in case.4
Roles played by Bar and Bench go hand in hand. The profession of Bar and Bench is the ultimate result of legal education. Those who belong to Bench are those who used to be part of the bar at one time. The mutual agreement of Bar and Bench helps in the administration of justice in society.
HOW ‘BENCH’ CAN STRENGTHEN RELATIONS WITH ‘BAR’?
The judicial system of state must be:
- The judge must hear both the parties before deciding the case. Enough opportunity must be given to both sides to represent their case.
- Judge shall not be impartial while giving his judgment.
- Judges shall interfere in proceedings to keep a check of relevancy of facts, receiving clarification on arguments.
- Judges must interpret the laws, acts, orders, and rules, that are in question to remove the inconsistency of provisions.
- Cases must not be adjourned for a longer duration of time and must have sufficient reason for any adjournment.
- Disposition of case should be done at the earliest if possible.
- Maintaining the independence of the judiciary.
- The meetings must be held among judges and advocates presenting the case so that the difficulty faced can be resolved.
- The changes in the legal world must be known by the judge.
HOW ‘BAR’ CAN STRENGTHEN RELATIONS WITH ‘BENCH’?
- Respect must be shown towards the courts and judges.
- Steps must be taken by advocates to ensure the avoidance of unfair practices by their clients.
- Advocates must not influence the judgments of courts.
- Advocates shall present the case with a clear mention of the laws involved and relevant case laws.
- Advocates must present facts before the court, not those which molded to be shown as truth.
- Advocate must not present a case before the judge to who he is personally related.
- Advocate must not be involved in any case based on their financial interest.
- Advocate shall not represent any case that may have a personal influence.
CONTEMPT OF COURT:
Supreme Court bench believed the cordial relations between bar and bench are a necessity so that the process of delivering justice in society could run smoothly. Lack of good relationship between bar and bench leads to slowing the process of administering justice and justice delayed is justice denied. The process in which justice is administered affects both bar and bench equally. The key to the stability of the relationship between bar and bench is respect towards each other. Both must support each other during difficulty. Being at bar is a prior step to becoming a judge. Every judge was once a lawyer. They both are the product of the same legal system just superiority varies. Sometimes, due to the severity of the case or facts, issues the conversation may turn into a heated and harsh debate.
The harsh approach by lawyers sometimes may lead to harm the very foundation that laid justice. It’s like disrespecting the system itself. An advocate must keep his/her personal opinion regarding anything to himself/herself and must act within the boundaries provided by law. Being at a higher position doesn’t give them the right to degrade the lower-class judicial officers or the members of the bar. An act of disrespecting the conduct either by a judge or by lawyer amounts to contempt of court. For instance, the use of language that implicates insult against a judge or conceives him/her with his removal and transferring to another area challenging the authority of the judge and defaming him/her in any manner is a punishable offense under the act and must be held liable under the appropriate section.
Contempt of court is governed under the Contempt of Court Act,1971 aiming at types of contempt of court and punishment for the act of contempt of court. In the case of Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India, the court punished the lawyer by suspending his license to practice the profession for a specified period. Civil Contempt as defined under the act states wilful disobedience of any court order or decree or judgment. Criminal Contempt as defined under the act, states the publication of any material defaming the conduct of courts or judges, or any obstruction in the administration of justice.
Rachita Taneja5 was a cartoonist who was accused of posting objectionable cartoons of the Supreme Court. It was held that if in the eyes of the accused his action was of fair criticism that still does not mean they have the authority to contempt the court. Prashant Bhushan6 the senior advocate published two tweets claiming the denial of fundamental rights to citizens by keeping Supreme Court in lockdown and another tweet states that Supreme Court destructed the functioning of democracy. This too was met with heavy criticism.
The relationship between Bar and the bench hasn’t developed fully since the introduction of democracy in Indian society. They both have mutual responsibility toward society to administer justice fairly. There must be a system of adjustment between both the elements of justice. Both the elements must function together to enhance their relationship in a better way. Both must uphold the basics of a free and independent judiciary. They must ensure the absence of impartiality, rule of law must be present to guarantee the independence of the judiciary from the state’s control.
Nowadays, the problem is that every day 5 to 6 letters were filed for adjourning of hearings on the ground of personal difficulty, this frequent adjournment is a matter of concern for both Bar and Bench. Lawyers must come thoroughly prepared for the presentation of the case so that there would no delay in process of justice delivery. Similarly, Judges must ensure to take much of the information so that there must be no hurdles in process of justice delivery. To attain justice in society both parties must play their part efficiently and cautiously. The bar must always be independent, responsible, and potent, to perform its function effectively so that the independence of the judiciary is maintained. If there must exist good relations between bar and bench, the high expense at the cost can be very much reduced.
1 1957 AIR 250.
2 1966 2 MLJ 219.
3 1998 AIR SC 283.
4 1943 AIR Lahore 14.
5 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1042.
6 2020 SCC OnLine SC 588.
This article is written by Simran Gulia pursuing BA LLB from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies.