Does Dress Code Still Matter When Court Proceedings Move Online?

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Lawyers should wear appropriate dress code while attending court proceedings. Ever since the Court proceedings moved online, few lawyers are drifting from the rules. 

COVID-19’s Impact on Court Proceedings

COVID-19 has affected almost everything in the world. The same goes for Judicial Services. It has done something that the judges and lawyers could not do in ages. The colonial legacy of wearing black coats and robes to the Supreme Court. This happened during a virtual court proceeding. The CJI and justices Indu Malhothra and Hrishikesh Roy were not wearing robes or coats. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal noticed this and requested to know why. The medical advisers say that virus sticks to the surfaces of gowns. They also conveyed that they wish to extend this to the lawyers as well.  

The medical advisers say that virus sticks to the surfaces of gowns. Supreme Court issued a notification. This notification, allows judges and lawyers to appear in a white shirt and lawyers band.      

Following this, BCI issued a notice applying same to advocates all over the country. 

Various Related Instances

In a case under the Rajasthan High Court, the petitioner appeared in his vest. Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma immediately adjourned the proceedings. According to him, “The counsel for the petitioner was contacted through video-conferencing. He was wearing a banian (vest). The court’s decorum required to be maintained even through video-conferencing.”

Further, the Court said that it has been observing that few lawyers are deferring from the rules. The court took into account a case that adjourned due to similar circumstances.  

A lady advocate appeared in the Jharkhand High Court in casual attire. The lady advocate reprimanded by the bench and Advocates Association. This led to the Advocates Association issuing a notice for all advocates to appear in proper attire. 

BCI’s Order

The BCI issued a notice relaxing the dress code. The Chairman of BCI, Rajendra Kumar expressed his dismay over the matter.  

A lawyer appeared in a virtual hearing in the Supreme Court while lying on bed and wearing a T-shirt. The judge drawing displeasure said that “minimum court etiquette” should be there.  Taking into account that the hearing is of public nature.  The Apex Court said that advocates appearing via video conference should be presentable. They should avoid showing images that are inappropriate.

“We are all passing through trying times and hearings by virtual courts has become an order of the day. Yet minimum court etiquette in terms of what can be considered decent dress, background, etc should be followed, given the public nature of the hearings,” the Apex Court said.


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