New Delhi: The Bar Council of India (BCI) asked lawyers across the country Thursday not to wear coats and long gowns during the hearings through video conferencing before any court or tribunal as a “precautionary measure to check the spread of coronavirus infection”.
The apex bar body’s direction came a day after the Supreme Court issued a notification asking lawyers appearing before it via video conferencing not to wear coats and long gowns.
“It is notified for information of all advocates of the country, that considering the medical advice and also the circular dated May 13, 2020 issued by the Supreme Court, all lawyers may wear ‘plain white shirt/white salwar-kameez/white saree with plain white neck band’ during hearing/ proceedings before all high courts and all other courts, tribunals, commissions and all other forums and no coat or gown/robes are/is required to be worn during such time period during which the threat of spread of corona virus looms large and/ or till such time the council further issues another administrative order modifying/ overriding this order.
“This administrative order is being issued as a precautionary measure to check the spread of corona virus infection under the present situation. This order will come into force with immediate effect and will be operative until further orders of the council,” BCI’s secretary Srimanto Sen said in the notification.
The apex court Wednesday came out with a similar notification for the lawyers appearing before it following one such observation by the Chief Justice of India S A Bobde.
The apex court has been conducting hearing through video conferencing only since March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It had even suspended the entry of advocates and other staff into the high security zone on the basis of their proximity cards, till further orders.
During the proceedings Wednesday, the CJI and Justices Indu Malhotra and Hrishikesh Roy were not wearing their coats and gowns when they assembled in the courtroom here for the hearing through video conferencing.
The bench, which was hearing arguments of senior lawyer Kapil Sibal in a case, observed that the judges and the lawyers should not wear coat and gown for the time being as they make it easier “to catch virus”.
The impact of the observation was instant as the lawyers were seen appearing without coat and gown in cases heard after that through video conferencing.
Earlier, the apex court had said on Tuesday that as part of a pilot project, the judges may come to the courtrooms in the apex court premises from next week to hold proceedings through video conferencing.
During the lockdown, the benches usually assemble at the residences of the judges and the lawyers are allowed to join the video conferencing from their homes or offices.