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Jharkhand High Court's sartorial switch to keep coronavirus at bay

Dress code tweaked as washing heavy coats and gowns daily to remove any virus not a feasible option: Notification
Jharkhand High Court

Chandrajit Mukherjee   |   Ranchi   |   Published 19.05.20, 08:24 PM

In a big break from time-honoured tradition, Jharkhand High Court has come out with a new instruction on the dress code of judges and lawyers alike amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The high court has asked the legal fraternity to temporarily not wear the “black coats and robes” that are synonymous with the profession, in a notification on May 17.

Explaining why, the notification issued through registrar-general Ambuj Nath on May 17 says that the novel coronavirus seems to be here to stay.

The virus is known to remain alive on clothes and other surfaces. However, washing the heavy coats and gowns every day was not a feasible option.

Hence, coats and gowns right now were a health hazard and should be avoided under the present circumstances, the notification explained.

In their place, lawyers and judicial officers, including high court judges, will now don white shirts with black or white trousers and the white neck band, the notification said.

Women judges, advocates and judicial officers would be required to wear a white saree or salwar kameez with the same white neck band.

The notification has been implemented “pursuant to similar orders passed by the Supreme Court of India”, informed a judicial officer of the high court.

“The new dress code is all about safety from Covid-19. There will be a high risk of contracting the infection through the black coats worn by the judges and advocates, hence they have been given up temporarily,” the official said.

Welcoming this directive of the high court, Jharkhand State Bar Council chairman Rajendra Krishna said this was a “good and practical step” under the circumstances.

“It is actually impossible to wash the coats and gowns frequently and at home, but clothes need washing after use at a time like this,” Krishna said. “So this is a good step to deal with the Covid-19 threat which is looming large on all of us. Moreover, the black coat and gown used to be extremely uncomfortable in summer. The new dress code is simple and comfortable for all,” Krishna said.

Adopting the new practice, Krishna also appeared before a few benches of the high court on Tuesday dressed in whites.

However, some other advocates argued that wearing their black coats was a “decades-old habit” that was hard to break.

“I feel shy without my black coat and it will take some time for many of us to come to terms with the new guidelines,” said an advocate who did not want to come on quote. “Though I do agree with the logic,” he asserted.

Advocate Sneh Singh said that advocates need to evolve. “Though the black coat has been an integral part of our identity from the beginning, it is time for a change,” she said.

Paper-less case

The court of Chief Justice Dr Ravi Ranjan and Justice S.N. Prasad heard the first paper-less case in Jharkhand High Court. The court on Tuesday disposed 121 cases through video conferencing done by 15 benches of the high court. All courts had taken up matters through video-conferencing with the advocates concerned.

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