Bar and Bench
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This article is written by Sanjana Jain, student, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi. The article talks about how both Bar and Bench are necessary for the administration of justice and their duties towards the Administration of justice. The article also talks about the relation between Bar and Bench.

Introduction

Attainment of justice for all the parties of the case and the society at a large is the main objective of our Judicial system. The Bar and Bench are the essential partners for fulfilling this objective of our judicial system, with the judiciary at the top of a vibrant bar. Both the partners must have mutual understanding and respect between each other, and each partner has its duties which they should perform diligently and effectively in order to enable the system to function in its best way. Failure of performing any duty by anyone partner will affect the other partner naturally. Thus it’s the duty of both the partners i.e the Bench and Bar to perform their work diligently effectively, and honestly in order to achieve justice in society.

In Calabar East Cooperative Thrift & Credit Society Ltd. V. Ikot (1999) case the Supreme Court of Nigeria has summed up the respective duties of Bar and Bench in the administration of justice thus :

“In our Adversary system, the object of adjudication is that the party shall come to the court with his case which will make the opposite party respond to the case filed by the party, and then the judge, will adjudicate on the issues in controversy impartially.”

Bar and Bench

There are two parts in a court where cases are conducted namely:

  1. The Bench, i.e. the place where the judges take their seat.
  2. Bar, i.e. the place where the advocates stand.

The judges are known as the “Bench” and the Advocates are known as the “Bar”. The relation between the judges and Advocates are referred to as the Bar and Bench relation. Speedy justice and the faith the public has on the judiciary depend on the relation between the judges and the Advocates and in the administration of justice the role of Advocates is equally important as that of judges. Providing justice is the joint responsibility of both the judges and the Advocates.

Duties of Bar and Bench in administration of justice

In the administration of justice, Bar and Bench plays an important role. Following are the duties of the Bench and the Bar which they should perform for the administration of justice.

Duties of the Bench

In the state, there is no office of such powers as that of the judge, as the powers which are held by judges are greater than any other functionary. The citizen’s life, liberty, personal domestic happiness, reputation, and property all are subject to the wisdom of the judges and all the citizens have to comply with the judge’s decision. If judges become corrupt there will be no security left with citizens to life and liberty, and also there will be no guarantee of personal domestic happiness to them. Thus, the state needs a judiciary that is strong, powerful, and impartial. The judges shall perform the following duties:

Patient Hearing

While hearing cases the judge shall not be biased, and shall not form the opinion regarding the merit of the case until he heard both the parties, he should act in the interest of justice. Sufficient opportunity shall be given to the advocates by judges in order to present their case.

Impartiality 

Judges shall act impartial, and shall not do anything in favor of his friend and relatives, he must do everything for justice.

Avoidance of Interruptions 

When advocates examine witnesses in a case or argue in case, the judge shall make sure that there are no interruptions. Unwanted interruption or bad comments by the judges during the hearing of the case disturbs the advocates and as a result, he may not be able to present his case properly. But the judges can interfere in the following circumstances:

  •  To prevent waste of time.
  •  To check the relevancy of arguments put forward by the advocates.
  •  To get clarifications on a point that is not clear to him.
  • To express his opinion on a point.
  • To promote speedy disposal of cases.

Interpretation of Statutes

In some cases, interpretations of acts, codes, regulations, orders, etc has to be done by the court, during the process of administration of justice, in order to remove the ambiguity or inconsistency or to know the actual meaning of the provisions. So in such cases, proper interpretation of statutes should be done by the court to render justice to the parties.

Avoidance of unreasonable adjournments

Without reasonable and sufficient grounds cases shall not be adjourned. One of the reasons for mounting arrears of cases is unreasonable adjournment which causes hardship to the parties.

Speedy disposal

Cases that come before the court shall be disposed of as soon as possible, as when justice is delayed it means justice is denied.

Avoiding harsh comments

Harsh comments shall be avoided by the judge in the court about the advocate’s lack of knowledge in law, similarly, without any sufficient reason, they can not ask the advocates to leave the court. Judges should possess a calm temper.

Independence

The protection of the independence of the judiciary should be the prime duty of the judge.

Meeting of judges and advocates

At regular intervals, meetings shall be conducted between the judges and the Advocates, such that they can put forward their difficulties in front of each other and it can be sorted out, this will help in strengthening the Bar and Bench relation. 

Integrity

The character and the conduct of a judge shall be praiseworthy, and he should have personal and intellectual integrity.

Industriousness

A judge should regularly update his knowledge and should know all the recent developments and changes made in the law.

Duties of the Bar

Advocates assist the court in the administration of justice, they are the officers of the court. Advocates present the case before the court after collecting material related to that case, and thus helps the court in arriving at the judgment. In the process of administration of justice, an advocate is a partner of the judiciary. An advocate shall perform the following duties-

  1. A respectful attitude shall be maintained by advocates towards the courts, bringing in mind that for the survival of the society the dignity of the judicial office is essential.
  2. Efforts shall be made by advocates in order to prevent his/her client from adopting unfair practices concerning the court.
  3. By any illegal or improper means, an advocate shall not try to influence the judgment of the court.
  4. Dignity and self-respect shall be maintained by an advocate while presenting his/her case in front of the judge.
  5. An advocate shall help the court in the trial of the case by presenting clearly the laws which are relevant to the particular case.
  6. An advocate shall not present any fact in front of the court which he knows to be false.
  7. An advocate shall not ask for an adjournment of the case without any sufficient reason.
  8. An advocate shall always appear in court in a presentable manner and a prescribed dress. In public places, he should not wear a gown or bands.
  9. If an advocate knows a judge personally he should not practice before him.
  10. An advocate shall not interrupt in between when an opposite council or judge is speaking.
  11. If an advocate has a monetary interest in any case, he shall not plead in such a case.
  12. An advocate shall not represent any organization or institution if he is a member of the executive committee of such an organization or institution.
  13. An advocate shall not apply any personal influence over the decision of the court, nor he should give any kind of impression that he possesses personal influence with the judge before whom he practices.

What judge requires from an advocate

An advocate is found to be useful and effective by the judge if he satisfies all the needs of the judge, and a judge requires an advocate to help him in reaching the conclusion of the case and thereby helping in the performance of his own role. It’s impossible for an advocate to do so unless he is equipped with the required skills. 

Bar and Bench relation

The process of administration of justice includes both the Bench and Bar. In order to maintain the cordial relation between Bar and Bench, mutual respect is necessary between them. Both the Advocate and judge complement each other, the principal ground for recruiting judges is Bar, so they both belong to the same community. But while discharging their duties sometimes they get into a harsh or heated argument.

When the advocate scandalizes the court he corrupts the very foundation of justice and such conduct by an advocate dishonors the process of administration of justice. Whatever is the status of court an advocate’s behavior towards the court shall always be of respect. Whatever advocate thinks about the Presiding officer, he must not show that in its attitude, because it’s his duty to uphold the dignity of the judiciary. Also, it’s the duty of the judges to not only be polite or calm towards the advocates but to do everything possible that will help the advocate in presenting his/her case.

Any misconduct done by any advocate or judge may amount to contempt of court, for example, if any advocate uses any offending language against a judge or if he threatens the judge to transfer the case or make scandalous allegations against a judge, etc. he commits contempt of court and for such an act he liable to punishment also. In order to protect the confidence of the public in the process of Administration of justice punishment for contempt of court is provided.

The Supreme Court in P.D. Gupta v. Ram Murti and Others case has laid down his opinion on Bar and Bench relation in the following words:

An advocate should be fair not only towards his client but also towards the court as well as towards the opposite party of the case. The process of administration of justice has to be kept clean and uncorrupted. The Administration of justice not only concerns the Bench, it concerns both the Bench and the Bar. The principal ground for recruiting judges is the Bar, both the judges and the advocates complement each other. The main duty of an Advocate is to present the case in court by informing the court about the law and the facts of the case and to help the court in arising at the conclusion of the case. For good administration of justice, an advocate shall possess good advocacy skills, so that he can put forward the case in court properly and not get interrupted by the judge unless the interruption is necessary.”

In the case of Mahant Hakumat Rai v. Emperor the high court held that :

An advocate can claim their right to be heard by the court before which they are practicing while performing their duty they shall be fearless and independent, and also they have the right to protest against any irregular procedure done by any judge. He would be perfectly right in asking for getting a proper hearing and objecting to any interruption made by the judge in order to disturb him while he is arguing the case in court and performing his duty towards the client. However, the presence of professional etiquette coupled with the recognition by the judiciary will help in reducing the conflicts between the Bar and Bench”.

Conclusion

An independent and fearless Bar is not preferred over an independent Bench, similarly, an independent Bench is also not preferred over an independent and fearless Bar, neither of them is superior over the other, both are essential for a free society. The freedom given to the Bar requires an independent judiciary, through which if necessary the freedom that is given to the Bar, be vindicated. A well-behaved, responsible, cultured, and a leaned Bar is one of the potent means for assuring judges their independence. Finally, the keystone for the smooth functioning of the courts in the general interest of the society is the reciprocal adjustment of conduct by the Bar and the Bench.

References

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