gauhati high court

Gauhati High Court: While considering the instant application praying for deletion and expunging of an earlier order wherein the High Court had ordered the police to de-court the applicant as he appeared before the Court wearing jeans instead of prescribed dress code for male advocates; the Bench of Kalyan Rai Surana, J.*, dismissed the application stating that, as the applicant was not properly attired on the day the he appeared before the Court which resulted in the issuance of the impugned order, hence it cannot be said that his legal or fundamental right to get an audience from the Court has been infringed on being de-courted for wearing jeans.

The Court opined that it is within the domain of every presiding judicial officer, including the Judge of the High Court to uphold adherence to the advocate’s dress code within the Court campus.

Background and Contentions: The applicant who is an advocate and has been practising for 3 decades, while appearing before the High Court in a pre-arrest bail matter, was de-courted as he appeared before the Bench wearing jeans instead of prescribed attire for male advocates as per Bar Council of India Rules and Gauhati High Court (Conditions of Practice of Advocates) Rules, 2010.

The applicant argued that although Rule 49 of Bar Council of India Rules, prescribes dress code for male advocates, which are- trousers (white, black, striped or grey), dhoti, excluding jeans; but Rule 16 of Gauhati High Court (Conditions of Practice of Advocates) Rules, 2010 does not exclude jeans. Therefore, the Court could not have de-courted the applicant.

It was further submitted that as the applicant had expressed his regret and assured the Court that he will not repeat the same and was not discourteous or unruly, the Court ought not to have called the police to de-court him as he was not a security threat.

It was also submitted that the Court could have refused the applicant an audience, but the Gauhati High Court Rules did not empower the High Court to de-court him.

Court’s Assessment: Perusing the facts and contentions raised by the applicant, the Court noted that the dress of an Advocate is prescribed by the Gauhati High Court Rules conjointly read with the Rules framed by the Bar Council of India.

The Court further held that that as the instant proceeding arises in jurisdiction under CrPC, review of earlier impugned order is legally not permissible.

It was further pointed out that via issuing the impugned order, the Court had exercised its powers within its campus and applicant was de-courted for the concerned moment. However, no order was passed to restrain him to appear even on the same day if he came in the proper prescribed dress. Thus, the right of the applicant to practice in Court was not infringed by the impugned order.

The Court stated that the applicant is trying to open Pandora’s Box, which may create more problems. “If jeans can be worn in Court, then the applicant may next ask why he shall not be permitted to appear in Court in “torn” jeans, “faded” jeans, jeans with “printed patches”, which are considered to be fashionable, or why he should not be allowed to appear in black track pant, or black pajamas merely because the Gauhati High Court Rules has not specifically excluded those”. Thus, in light of the nature of plea taken, the Court noted that the expression of “regret” expressed by the applicant was not a genuine expression of regret.

The Court stated that although it prima facie appears that the provisions of Section 34 and 49(1)(gg) of the Advocates Act, 1961, as well as BCI Rules and Gauhati High Court (Conditions of Practice of Advocates) Rules, 2010 operate in different fields and that incidental encroachment of dress code prescribed under the Bar Council of India Rukes by the Gauhati High Court (Conditions of Practice of Advocates) Rules, 2010 would not have the effect of diluting the dress code prescribed by BCI, which cannot be decided conclusively without notice to the proper and necessary parties, like Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland, etc.

The Court thus opined that under the guise of deciding the instant application, the Court cannot/not ought to venture into interpreting the scope of Gauhati High Court (Conditions of Practice of Advocates) Rules, 2010, which has been made under Section 34 of the Advocates Act, 1961 as well as the scope of “Form of dresses or robes to be worn by Advocates”, which has been framed by the Bar Council of India in exercise of power conferred under Section 49(1)(gg) of the Advocates Act, 1961.

The Court stated that the instant case is not a case where the applicant has been able to demonstrate that some inadvertent typing or clerical error has crept in the impugned order. On that day, as the applicant had entered the Court room wearing jeans, the Court had an inherent right to refuse an audience to the applicant. The impugned order had been implemented and the applicant was de-courted from the Court premises, which cannot be undone.

[Bijon Kumar Mahajan v. State of Assam, 2024 SCC OnLine Gau 225, decided on 02-02-2024]

*Order by Justice Kalyan Rai Surana

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Applicant- P.K. Goswami, Senior Advocate; K.N. Choudhury, Senior Advocate; A. Choudhury, A.K. Baruah and D. Borah, Advocates

For respondents- K. Baishya, Addl. P.P.

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