Dress properly, SC to lawyers

Lawyers appearing before Supreme Court be extra cautious about their dressing as they could end up catching the ire of the judiciary.

An order issued by the apex court in October has attracted attention in the legal circles where the judges adjourned the case, saying the lawyer for the petitioner was not dressed properly.

“Learned counsel for the petitioner’s is not properly dressed. Post for hearing after two weeks,” the order by Justice JS Khehar and Justice Arun Mishra said. Khehar is set to become the next Chief Justice of India in January.

No further details were given in the terse two line order what was inappropriate about the lawyer’s attire. The petitioner is a media related company and the case was later heard in November.

This is not the first time the Supreme Court expressed its unhappiness over lawyers’ attire. In late 2014, the apex court had issued a directive to all advocates to mind their uniform while entering not only courtrooms but also the apex court premises.

The court was then irked over a lawyer entering Chief Justice of India’s courtroom with saffron-coloured long gowns. It had directed all lawyers to dress up as prescribed under the Bar Council of India rules, advocates’ regulatory body, while entering in the apex court’s precincts.

A circular issued by the Supreme Court Assistant Registrar had then made it clear that only advocates in proper uniform will be allowed entry into courtroom.

According to Bar Council directives, lawyers appearing in the Supreme Court, High Courts, subordinate Courts, tribunals or authorities shall wear a black buttoned up coat, chapkan, achkan, black sherwani and white bands with advocates’ gowns. They must put on a black open breast coat, white shirt, white collar — stiff or soft — and white bands with advocates’ gowns.

Women advocates, accordingly, have to wear sarees or Salwar-kurta. Gowns, however, is optional except in HCs and the Supreme Court. During summer, wearing of black coat is not mandatory except in Supreme Court and High Courts.

A black tie may be worn instead of bands by advocates in courts other than the Supreme Court, High Courts, district courts, sessions courts or city civil courts.

An advocate must not wear bands or gowns in public places other than in courts except on such ceremonial occasions and at such places prescribed under the Bar Council of India rules.\

(Reported with Ashish Tripathi. An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Dec 17, 2016)

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