The Supreme Court on Wednesday came out with a formal notification asking lawyers not to wear coats and long gowns during the hearings through video conferencing 'till medical exigencies exist or until further orders' in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The notification came in the evening, hours after Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde, said such dresses should not be donned as they make it easier to 'catch virus'.
'It is notified for the information of all concerned that considering the medical advice, as a precautionary measure to contain spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection under the prevailing conditions, the Competent Authority has been pleased to direct that the advocates may wear 'plain white-shirt/white-salwar-kameez/white saree, with a plain-white neck band' during the hearings before the Supreme Court of India through Virtual Court System till medical exigencies exist or until further orders,' said the notification, issued by apex court Secretary General, Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar.
Besides sharing the notification on the apex court's website, it will be served to the secretaries of Supreme Court Bar Association and the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association to ensure compliance.
The observation of the CJI and subsequent formal notification assumed significance in view of the fact that the apex court has been holding courts through video conferencing only from March 25 due to the nation-wide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and 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.
Earlier during the day, the CJI and Justices Indu Malhotra and Hrishikesh Roy were not wearing their coat and gowns when they assembled for the hearing through video conferencing in the courtroom.
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 on Tuesday said 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.