Indian lawyers told to smarten up in virtual hearings

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 02 2021 10:28 PM

Indian lawyers have been told to smarten up their act after some appeared in virtual hearings in colorful shirts, just a vest or even while riding a scooter.

The Allahabad High Court in Uttar Pradesh state said Wednesday that cyberspace was like an extended courtroom and the casual attire and behavior were unacceptable.

Most courts in India have been functioning virtually since last March when the country imposed a months-long pandemic lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.

"Advocates should understand that their appearance for hearing of cases through virtual mode from their house or office or chamber is like an extended court room and it is as serious as attending a proceeding inside a court," news channel NDTV quoted the court order as saying.

It ordered advocates to adhere to the dress code that includes a white shirt for men and white saris for women.

The court said that in recent times it had encountered "a lady advocate with face pack on", a lawyer "while driving scooter", and one advocate "wearing a vest" and warned that it will not "ignore any more casual appearances".

Yogendra Swaroop, former chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Bar council, said the order was necessary to maintain the sanctity of the courtroom.

"There are certain norms to be followed in a court and dressing is one of them," Swaroop told AFP.

India's virtual court hearings like elsewhere –- like the viral Zoom video of a US lawyer stuck with a cat filter -- has too witnessed several faux pas.

Last year, a lawyer was seen smoking a water pipe during a hearing and another gobbling down his lunch while a third advocate told a Supreme Court judge, "who are you, brother?"