Tribunals Have No Authority To Issue Instructions On Dress Code Of Advocates Appearing Before Them: Madras High Court.

The Madras HC has quashed a notification issued by the Registrar of NCLT which made it compulsory for advocates appearing before any bench of NCLT to wear gowns. This was seen in the matter of R Rajesh v. Union of India and others, Writ Petition No. 31852 of 2017 and WMP.Nos.35007 & 35008 of 2017, the matter was presided over by Coram of The Honourable Mr. Justice R. Mahadevan & The Honourable Mr. Justice Mohammed Shaffiq


Earlier, a bench of Justice K Ravichandrabaabu (since retired) & Justice TS Sivagnanam had ordered an interim stay on the operation of the order holding it to be in conflict with the Rules of the BCI which make wearing of gowns compulsory for an advocate only in case she or he is appearing in the SC or the HCs.

The division bench of Justice R Mahadevan & Justice Mohammed Shaffiq in the judgment noted that as per Sec 34 of the Advocates Act & the BCI Rules, only the HC can frame rules for the dress code for the appearance of advocates.

“In absentia, the rules in CH IV of the BCI Rules shall prevail and the Tribunals have no authority to issue any instructions determining the dress code for the appearance of the advocates before it. When there are statutory rules framed by the competent authority & when the statute has conferred the powers on the HC with reference to prescription of the dress code, any instruction, direction, advisory by the Tribunal, especially when it runs contrary to the statutory rules, is ultravires the Act, & without there being any source of power for issuance of such directions.”

It also said that it could be inferred that the wearing of “gown” is only optional & not compulsory before any courts other than the SC or the HCs


The court added that the powers prescribed under Rule 51 of the NCLT Rules are merely for discharging functions as per the Act, in accordance with the principles of natural justice & equity. The same could not mean conferring power to set down the dress code, more so when it is contrary to the BCI rules, it said. The court also noted that “other powers” granted to the President of the NCLT are with regard to the administrative power of the President and that also could not be extended to include the power to frame any rule or issue any instruction, in the nature of the one questioned, to set down the dress code for the advocates. The court noted that during the pendency of proceedings, the NCLT modified its earlier order & followed the BCI Rules with regard to the dress code for legal practitioners. “The proceedings dated 27.01.2023 is taken on record. Though, the questioned order, though withdrawn, will stand quashed on the basis of the reasoning as adumbrated supra,” it added.

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Judgement Reviewed by YAKSHU JINDAL

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