Coronavirus has changed a lot of things. It will possibly change the way we’ve been leading our lives until now.
In the wake of the pandemic, the courts have also undertaken steps to ensure the safety of the lawyers and the judges.
Recently, the Supreme Court issued a notification relaxing the dress code-related obligations for the lawyers and the judges.
What Is the Present Dress Code?
Presently, there is a set dress code that all lawyers, judges and interns have to compulsorily follow while being a part of the court proceedings.
The lawyers and legal interns are expected to wear black and white clothes. Men have to wear white shirts and black trousers with a black gown. Women are required to wear black or white coloured shirts and trousers, salwar-kameez or saree with a black gown.
All advocates need to wear white bands compulsorily.
The judges are required to follow the same dress code as that of advocates.
What Does the Notification say?
For the court proceedings conducted through video conferencing, the advocates were exempted from wearing their robes and gowns.
However, considering the violation of the dress code by certain lawyers, wearing a white dress was made compulsory. During one of the proceedings through videoconferencing, an advocate appeared in a vest, ditching the formal attire, making the enforcement of dress code compulsory.
The notification read, “As a precautionary measure to contain spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection under the prevailing conditions, the Competent Authority has been pleased to direct that the advocates may wear “plain white-shirt/white-salwar-kameez/ white saree, with a plain- white neck band” during the hearings before the Supreme Court of India through Virtual Court System till medical exigencies exist or until further orders.”
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According to the Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde, wearing coats and gowns makes it easier for lawyers and judges to catch COVID-19. He made this statement while hearing a Public Interest Litigation.
The coats and gowns can catch the virus easily because they are not dry cleaned every day and are to be worn by the lawyers and judges every day, throughout all the proceedings.
It is important to note here that due to the pandemic; the courts are operating through the Virtual Court System. Only urgent matters are being listed before the court and hearings are conducted using videoconferencing.
The advocates have been advised to be a part of the proceedings from their chambers till the medical issues pertain.
They are told not to appear in person before the court and use video conferencing methods to put forth their arguments before the court from the comfort of their offices, considering the lockdown and the pandemic.
What Is The Trend Outside India?
Considering the prevailing medical situation, various judicial systems throughout the world have made relaxations and have changed the dress code.
In the United Kingdom, the advocates have been exempted from the traditional black gowns and wigs until further notice to ensure protection from COVID-19.
Considering how much the pandemic has changed life for us, it is likely that in near future, we will come across situations when traditional uniforms would be traded for something more medically appropriate in all fields, including law.
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This post is tagged under: new dress code for lawyers, judges, legal interns, court clerks, formal, black and white, robes, coronavirus, covid 19, spread, PIL, CJI Bobde, uniform