Monday, July 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Need to change national attitude towards soldiers

Apropos the news item “Holiday for soldiers but not without irritants” (June 21), it is a sad commentary on our national attitude towards our soldiers. A couple of decades ago I had read an article in this very paper wherein the author had tried to explain as to why a soldier fights. It’s not for money or any other material gains because he is not a mercenary; and definitely there is a difference between a soldier and a mercenary.

It’s the reverent attitude in recognition of his services shown by the citizens of his country, through small little gestures of courtesy, always, everywhere and anywhere, which instills a feeling in him that he is a super citizen cut out for a mission which he only and not a common citizen is committed to accomplish. Until a feeling of welfare and priority is given to him in every sphere of life, in letter and spirit, the soldier will never get that feeling of and sense of total commitment to fight and lay down his life. No sane human being likes to die and leave his family orphaned in the hands of an ungrateful nation only for money.

In British times and for sometime after that there was an effective system in the civil bureaucracy to fully support and protect the interests of soldiers back at their native places, both during their presence there and otherwise. The system still exists on paper but, sadly, it is almost defunct now because ethics, and values of the civil bureaucracy have shifted elsewhere. A letter written by an officer commanding to the civil authorities for welfare of a soldier seldom fetches a reply what to talk of a positive response.


As for travel facilities in such compassionate times for soldiers to go on leave after long periods of field deployment, why can’t the Railways and even passengers voluntarily offer seats or even offload to accommodate soldiers, which will be a very small discomfort for expressing their gratitude to those ensuring their comforts in their cozy homes forever. Instead of running a “Bhangra Gaddi’s” at this time why can’t it be converted to a “Sainik Gaddi’s” and what about the Railways having a contingency plan to meet such eventualities for which no prior notice might be possible?

Lt Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd.), Mohali

Limiting adjournments

Apropos K.K. Gupta’s letter (June 25), it is a well known fact that the lawyers seek adjournment of the cases on one pretext or the other and the clients thus feel cheated. Often judges adjourn the cases without any hesitation and without considering the problem/harassment to the litigants, though they are well aware that the litigants had come earlier on many dates after leaving their work and spending a lot of money. A limit on adjournments may be fixed in the interest of early disposal of cases and the defaulter lawyers should be penalised.

In case the judges are strict to their profession and they do not adjourn the cases except very exceptional cases, the public may regain faith in the judiciary.

The judges, lawyers, document writers and court staff all work to redress/solve problems of the public. But it is strange that there is no provision to redress grievances of the public against the above staff/professionals and the public has to suffer heavily in absence of such an arrangement.

It is requested that a complaint box may be provided for genuine public complaints and the head of the court should take suitable action on these complaints daily in the interest of justice.

SOM RAJ, Chandigarh



Dealing with separatists

With reference to the arrest of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, it has been rightly remarked in the editorial “Getting tough with separatists” (June 11) that “New Delhi could have done what it is doing today immediately after September 11 when terrorists, separatists and their mentors and guides found themselves in the dock”.

Kashmir was celebrated not only because of its romantic beauty, salubrious climate and fertility of soil, but also for its wonderful communal harmony.

The whimsical and lackadaisical handling of the Kashmir affairs by New Delhi during the past 55 years has created an alarming situation there. Instead of coming down heavily on the secessionists and insurgents, who, to all intents and purposes, are rebels, it has all along been adopting a policy of appeasement towards them.

Urfi Shirazi, a prominent poet of Akbar’s court, said: “Har sokhta-jaaney ke ba Kashmir dar aayad/Gar murgh-e-kabaab ast ba baal-o-par aayad”. (Any one suffering from vexation of mind, who visits Kashmir, returns duly endowed with wings and feathers of health even if he is a roasted bird). Unfortunately, now the position is that even a healthy person visiting the valley returns suffering from vexation of mind because of the gory happenings there.

It is high time that the functionaries of the separatist conglomerate who promote Pakistan’s interest in Kashmir and other secessionists and their aiders and abettors are ruthlessly dealt with. The people living in the shadow of terrorists’ bullets and yearning for peace wonder: “Kab nazar mein aaey gee be-daagh sabzey kee bahaar/Khoon key dhabbey dhulein gey kitni barsaaton ke baad.”

Being used to living luxuriously because of the money received by him from across the border, Mr Geelani has, in the jail, demanded food of his choice and other facilities, which cannot be allowed to a general prisoner. His plight has reminded me of Zauq’s couplet: “Shaikh ney iftaariyoon key tar-nivaaley khaaey khoob/Hai magar rozon kee garmee sey chhohaara ho gaya.”


Addressing the judges

India was a jewel in the Crown of the British empire. The bearer of this crown was addressed as His Majesty/Her Majesty. His Majesty’s representative in India used to be Governor-General/Viceroy carrying the title of His Excellency. The Governors of Provinces in India also used to carry the same title. The ministers at the Centre and in provinces used to carry the prefix of “Hon’ble” with their respective portfolios appearing at the end. The members of legislatures both at the Centre and in provinces used to be addressed as “Hon’ble Members”. After the attainment of freedom all such forms of address were done away with as these appeared to be symbols of slavery and unfit in a democratic setup.

About 10 centuries ago in England a person who was not a Lord was bound to have a Lord. A lord-less person to the Anglo Saxon ears was the same as a rogue and a vagabond. The persons who administered justice in that country represented the Crown. They used to be Lords or were made Lords. They used to be addressed as “My Lord” and rightly so. England at that time was not following democratic traditions. This form of address came to India from the country which ruled over us.

The judges of the federal court and High Courts used to be addressed as “My Lord” during pre-Independence period. After that the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts continue to be addressed as “My Lord” though their appointing authority, who is the President of India, does not carry the title of His Majesty or His Excellency. There is no provision in any law of the land or the Constitution of India which may have conferred title of “My Lord” on the judges of the Supreme Court of India or of the high courts.

The judges are citizens of India and citizens of this county come to them for justice according to the law and for the enforcement of their constitutional rights. The form of address as “My Lord” stinks of serfdom and is humiliating to the persons coming for justice. In vernacular these words are equivalent to “Hazoor”, “My Baap”, “Ann Data”.

Many high court bar associations have passed resolutions that the form of address be changed to: Sir, “Shrimaan” or “Mahodya” but there has been no follow-up action.

Putting the prefix “Mr Justice” so and so (retd.) should also be done away with. We do not address the ex-president of the country or other great personalities when they have retired in such a way. The proper form of address for a judge is “Sir” and nothing more.


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