Express press service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Trivandrum Bar Association (TBA) has urged senior barristers to advise their juniors on the dress code the latter should follow when appearing in court. The notice drew strong criticism from some lawyers who called it “highly patriarchal” and a kind of moral police. In its June 28 notice, TBA said a section of junior lawyers were disrespecting older people by wearing casual dresses like three-quarter lengths and sleeveless blouses. The TBA may initiate disciplinary proceedings if the lawyers do not wear appropriate uniforms within the next few days.
“I felt it was totally unjustified and highly patriarchal. It’s a kind of morality police. Every lawyer must follow the dress code when appearing in court, but the association should not have imposed such restrictions in court premises. Sleeveless blouses are permitted in courts across India. Likewise, respect is something that should not be imposed. I feel that young lawyers are open-minded and that the TBA’s decision is tantamount to intimidating them,” said lead attorney J Sandhya, who also wrote a Facebook post about it.
A junior lawyer, who wished to remain anonymous, also echoed the opinion. “This is a first of its kind from a bar. It is our human right to choose what we want to wear or not. Imposing such a circular in itself is a kind of moral police,” she said.
However, according to TBA President Anayara Shaji, young lawyers are “hungover” from life on college campuses. Therefore, they wear casual dresses when they come to court.
“Young lawyers have a college campus approach and behave that way. In court, too, they don’t respect experienced lawyers. Their elders must advise and correct them. Otherwise, we will take disciplinary action against them. We had warned them several times in the past. Yet they do. It’s against maintaining decorum in court. We have therefore discussed the matter with many bailiffs because it is contrary to the rules of the bar association. We plan to hold classes for juniors on how to maintain decorum when coming to the courts,” he said.