HC issues notice to BCI on plea seeking ban on present dress code for lawyers
- The petitioner said the present dress code of wearing a coat and a gown and tying a band around the neck is not suitable for the climatic condition of India.
The Allahabad high court has issued notice to the Bar Council of India (BCI) on a plea seeking a ban on the present dress code of black coat and robes for lawyers, even as the Lucknow bench of the high court directed the Centre and the high court administration to file their responses on the issue by August 18.
A division bench of justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyay and Ajai Kumar Srivastava issued the notice on Friday to the BCI on a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Ashok Pandey. Considering the importance of the issue, it asked all the respondents to come up with their stand on the next date of hearing.
The petitioner has challenged the provisions of the fourth chapter of the BCI Rules, 1975 framed under section 49(i)(gg) of the Advocates Act 1961, alleging that the same are ultra vires (beyond the powers) to the Constitution, violating articles 14, 21 and 25. The petitioner has demanded from the court that it should direct the BCI to frame fresh rules for prescribing a new dress code for lawyers across India in view of the country’s climatic condition.
The PIL has also sought quashing of a circular framed by the HC administration, which mandates wearing black robes for appearing before the court.
Arguing before the bench, the petitioner said the present dress code of wearing a coat and a gown and tying a band around the neck is not suitable for the climatic condition of India.
“The advocate’s band is a religious symbol of Christianity and a non-Christian cannot be compelled to wear it,” he submitted.
The petitioner also said, “Wearing a white saree or salwar kameez is a symbol of widows according to the Hindu culture and traditions and there was no application of mind on the part of the BCI while prescribing the present dress code for lawyers in the country.” The petitioner added, “Even a mad man will not go for a coat and a gown in summer but sadly, lawyers and judges are wearing those proudly. The black robes prescribed by the BCI and the HC administration is unreasonable, unjust, improper and violative of the fundamental rights of lawyers guaranteed under articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.”