My good friend Asok Pande, a practising Advocate, mainly at the High Court of Lucknow, has raised a very pertinent point in a PIL before the High Court that the dress code of judges and advocates as prescribed by the Bar Council should be scrapped as it is totally unsuitable to the clime and culture of India. The High Court has issued notice to the BCI after getting prima facie convinced with the petitioner. As a matter of fact, an Advocate actually appears like a buffoon, and a madari after wearing a black coat, a gown and a band (which the petitioner says symbolises a Christian preacher). No Advocate, a Judge or even the Bar council office-bearer would be able to give any justification or convincing reply to this highly irksome and irritating dress code.
The Advocate Act was enacted in 1961 and the Bar Council of India (Bharat) also came into existence along with it, but the latter derives its strength from the former. The Advocates Act removed many anomalies and brought about a semblance of uniformity in the profession. Bar The council became a regulatory body. The changes have been introduced in the Bar Council from time to time, but they have been inadequate. For example, why has it not been able to dispense with the glaring absurdity of the dress code? Why the legal education is still in the mess? Why no efforts have been made to stop the Tribunalisation of justice in India? Why no trustworthy system of appointment of judges right from the Magistrate level to the Supreme Court has evolved? Why the appointment of pleaders or advocates of the States is left at the whims and fancies of the powers that be, which often stinks of corruption to the high heaven?
In the olden days, even the judges of the Indian Supreme Court and the High Courts used to wear wigs, for no sensible rhyme and reason, but that was changed for good. Earlier the judges used to wield batons on their desks, which was also very ludicrous but thankfully, that has been done away with.
There is no doubt that there should be a dress code for the Advocates like it is prescribed for in most of the professions, which may differentiate them from others but that should be soothing and climate-appropriate. For the sake of a separate identity, the advocates should not be made to undergo pain and suffering and become a laughingstock.
Hundreds of PILs are filed every year but only a few really fall within the ambit of Public Interest. Most of them are filed either for Publicity Interests or Private interests. But this PIL of Sri Pande has certainly caught the imagination of the public. Almost all advocates have been thinking for a quite long time about the absurdity of the present dress code, but this PIL has given vent to their feelings. The Hon’ble Judges have understood the gravity of the problem for issuing the notice. This is a significant step in the direction of the inevitable change. Hopefully, this PIL will be able to garner widespread and comprehensive support across the country.


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