A strange regulation written down by the Registrar General states that “officials must pay the highest respect to the judges whenever they see their Lordships passing the galleries of the Allahabad high court”. It is to be assumed that their Lordships must have had something to do with such an “order” which also states that transgressions would be viewed seriously. In this day and age, it would be risible to hear of such a demand for respect if it were not backed by the majesty of the court. It would appear as if the judges feel slighted by others going about their work in the galleries as if they have no time even to show courtesy to the judges. Or their Lordships in Uttar Pradesh might be nursing an atavistic desire for a return to the “good old days” when kings had hailers announcing their entry and the courtiers curtsied in acknowledgment.
The chair, seat and bench are symbols of power in themselves and the personalities who sit in them just draw their authority from the office. It is as a respect for the concept of justice that “all rise” when the judge enters the courtroom and sits in his chair. Otherwise, the judges are the same as any other citizen when at the marketplace, the mall or the cinema theatre. Of course, it could be different at the airport if they are so fortunate as to be on the long list or persons exempt from security checks. But that is part of India's VVIP culture and is an exception to the larger principle of equality of all before the law. Society is well governed when its people obey the magistrates and the magistrates obey the law. Not without reason is it said that common sense often makes good law. The Allahabad high court would do well to remember that.