Sweltering Heat Forces Delhi Courts to Relax Dress Code, Seek Permanent Change

New Delhi: Delhi’s scorching temperatures are putting a strain on the legal system, with some courts allowing lawyers to ditch the traditionally hot black robes and judges calling for improved working conditions.

The decades-old dress code, requiring lawyers to wear black coats, is under scrutiny as the capital grapples with a brutal heatwave. At least three courts have temporarily relaxed the rule, prioritizing health and comfort during the summer months.

However, lawyers and judges are urging the Supreme Court to implement a nationwide, permanent change to the dress code. The current attire, designed for cooler climates, absorbs more heat and poses health risks in India’s scorching summers.

Adding to the discomfort, many lower courts and tribunals lack proper air conditioning and ventilation, relying solely on fans. This week, a judge in one Delhi court even postponed a hearing due to the unbearable heat and lack of basic amenities like running water.

The situation highlights the broader issue of inadequate infrastructure in many Indian courthouses. In 2021, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) pointed out the “dilapidated structures” lacking essential facilities, creating a challenging environment for both legal professionals and the public.

A Delhi lawyer, Shailendra Mani Tripathi, has filed a petition with the Supreme Court, arguing that the black coats are not only uncomfortable but also a potential health hazard. He emphasizes the need for a more practical dress code that prioritizes well-being in the Indian climate.

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