KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday refused to stop the practice of lawyers wearing a black gown while arguing the cases before the High Court as well as in other courts in the state.
“Apart from identity, the dress worn by the advocates clearly induces a seriousness of purpose and a sense of decorum which are highly necessary and conducive for the dispensation of justice,” the court held. Justice A M Shaffique passed the order while dismissing a petition filed by High Court lawyer Vincent Panikulangara seeking a directive to formulate a dress code for advocates considering the climatic conditions and dissociating from the British colonial hangover. It is common knowledge that black clothes absorb more heat and so black coloured dresses are common in western countries.
However, advocates, both men and women in Kerala, have to wear black coat and bands to appear in courts, even during peak summer. The difficulties during the rainy season are equally hard. This predicament is the result of the dress code for lawyers, blindly following the British colonial heritage, disregarding a ‘Swadeshi’ approach and our climatic conditions, even after six decades of independence.
Black dress is the mourning dress in England, the petitioner submitted.
Dismissing the petition, the court cited the Allahabad High Court order which stated that the dress of an advocate distinguishes the person from the litigants or other members of the public who comes to the court.
According to the petitioner, the temperature in Kerala is nearly 40 degree Celsius during summer.
Though the court rooms in the Kerala High Court are air conditioned the conditions at the lower courts are pathetic, the petitioner argued. The court observed that the introduction of a dress code for those practicing in various courts can only be termed as a reasonable restriction and cannot be termed as either arbitrary or unreasonable.
The rules framed by the Bar Council of India have stated that wearing black coat during summer is not mandatory, the court observed.