On July 25, the Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea seeking exemption of Supreme Court and High Court lawyers from wearing compulsory black coats during the summer months. Lawyer Shailendra Mani Tripathi approached the Supreme Court seeking amendment of the Bar Council of India rules.
① Why are you exempt from wearing coats in summer?
India is a diverse country. In one place you will be covered with a blanket, in another place at the same time, it will be difficult for you to even wear a shirt. In Delhi, the cold weather is limited to two-three months and it becomes difficult to wear a coat during the rest of the year.
② What does the law say about uniforms worn by lawyers?
Section 49 1 (GG) of the Advocates Act states that the dress code shall be as per the climatic conditions and empowers the BCI to make rules in this regard. (BCI rules require advocates to wear ‘calm and dignified attire – a black coat, a white shirt and white band with gowns for men. For the summer months, the Delhi High Court in February scrapped its requirement for lawyers to wear gowns.)
③ What could be the alternative to the existing uniform?
The apex court asked us to approach the BCI and verbally said that we can come back if no decision is taken by the statutory body. We are preparing an alternative and researching which colors will be suitable for the summer season. Within the next 10 days, we will be able to present our proposal to the public. Everyone is supporting it.
④ Are you against the idea of uniforms for lawyers?
No, uniform is required. The uniform should be such that it facilitates our work and instead does not create obstacles. If we are wet with sweat, how can we work? When we are arguing in court, we also suffer from itching. I once had an infection and had to consult a doctor. Won’t it affect our concentration? Courts located in rural areas have no fans, no electricity and lawyers are drenched in sweat wearing only shirts. Coats cannot be worn in summer; The uniform should be according to the climatic conditions.
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⑤ What steps are you taking now?
Prepare our representation. We will now approach BCI and hope for a favorable decision.