The Allahabad High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Bar Council of India (BCI) on a plea seeking a ban on the existing dress code of black coat and robes prescribed for lawyers alleging that the same is against the climate conditions of India. The Bench of Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyay and Justice Ajai Kumar Srivastava further directed the Centre and the high court administration to file their respective responses by August 18.

The plea has been moved by party-in-person Ashok Pande who has also urged the Court to direct for the framing of new rules prescribing the advocates dress as per the climatic condition of the country. The PIL has also sought quashing of a circular framed by the high court administration, which mandates wearing black robes for appearing before the court. The plea also prays that the judges of all courts, tribunals, authorities or any other person to be prohibited to follow the dress code prescribed for the Advocates by the Bar Council of India Rules, 1975.

Significantly, the plea says that:

“The dress code prescribed for the Advocates where they are to wear coat and gown and tie their neck through a band is not as per the climatic conditions…the Advocates Band is the religious symbol of Christianity and so the non-Christians cannot be compelled to wear a symbol of Christianity…wearing of white sari and salwar-kameez is the symbol of widow ladies as per the Hindu culture and tradition and so there is no application of mind on the part of BCB”

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. Criticizing the dress code, the petitioner has said that the Bar Council should design some dress code for the lawyers on the pattern of dress code provided for army, navy, air-force.

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