Madras High Court: Advocates cannot wear gowns when participating in strike

Shweta Tambade

The Madras High Court has instructed the Bar Council of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu to ask advocates not to wear black gowns and neckband while participating in a strike.

A division bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi observed that advocates must restrict their uniforms only on the campus of the court.

But it is also noted they are dressed in the uniform while participating in strikes.

The judges had clarified that the order does not implicate that the court is promoting the strikes arranged by advocates.

The court passed the interim order while hearing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by Advocate B Ramkumar Adityan, a resident of Tuticorin district.

He sought a direction to ensure that all advocates maintain proper dress code during court proceedings, and they don’t wear black gowns and neckbands during protests, agitations, and strikes.

The petitioner, under the Bar Council of India Rules 1975, stated that the dress code is a symbol of dignity, honour, wisdom, and justice.

“Dress code is a symbol of the dignity, honour, wisdom, and justice and these are the values which any Advocate has to keep up with. Every Advocate needs to maintain the grace and the dignity of the profession. One cannot wear a “T” shirt and a “Jean” and come to Court, the Temple of Justice,” stated the petition.

Further, the petitioner also showed concern that advocates participating in strikes, boycotts of courts, and road agitations wear their gown and neckband, although such demonstrations are the opposite of their obligations under the Advocates’ Act, 1961. The petitioner contended this has to be strictly avoided.

After making such observations, Advocate S. Krishnan representing the petitioner has constrained the Madras High Court to give directions so that the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Council assures that:

All the advocates adhere to the proper dress code during court proceedings and do not violate the rules regarding the dress code from the Advocates Act 1961.

The petition was filed through Advocate G Sureshkumar.

The Court has also issued a notice in the matter.