The Allahabad High Court has issued notice on a PIL challenging its previous circular which made black gowns/coats mandatory for lawyers appearing before it.
A Divisional Bench of Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyay and Justice Ajai Kumar Srivastava directed the Central Government, the Bar Council of India and the Allahabad High Court to file a counter affidavit in the matter.
Petitioner Ashok Pandey further sought direction for the Bar Council of India to frame rules prescribing dress code for advocates considering the weather in the country.
The petitioner also moved court with a rather unique prayer of prohibiting judges of all courts, tribunals, authorities or any other person from wearing the dress code prescribed for advocates by the BCI rules, 1975 and declare the provisions contained in chapter IV of the BCI rules, 1975, which is rules for dress-code for advocates, as ultra-vires to the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution and also against the spirit of provisions contained u/s 49(1) (gg) of the Advocates Act, 1961.
Pandey is an advocate and president of the Hindu Personal Law Board and chairman of Global Human Rights Organizations.
He said that India is a tropical country having high temperatures for the whole year and asking an advocate to wear a coat, gown and necktie cannot be said to be a proper dress. Compelling the advocates to wear gowns in crunching heat violates the fundamental rights of the advocates, added Mr Pandey.
The petitioner further stated that he follows the Sanatana Dharma and is having an objection to wearing the band for its reason of being a symbol of Christianity and being worn by Church priests. He also stated that this system was first adopted by barristers in England and extended to advocates in India.
The petitioner shared his personal experience when he was appearing before the Lucknow bench of Justice Rituraj Awasthi and Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh at Allahabad High Court, which asked him to wear a black coat, otherwise his case will be dismissed.
Mr Pandey showed them the BCI circular about the exemption in dress code due to summer. Upon several requests of hearing or adjournment, the bench denied it and the petitioner had to wear some other advocate’s court.
“Wearing white sari/ salwar kameez is a symbol of widow ladies as per the Hindu culture and tradition, so there is no application of mind on part of BCB (Bar Council of Bharat), while making the rule,” alleged the petition. The matter is listed for August 18 for further hearing.