KATHMANDU: Judges and lawyers will soon revert to wearing black gown with a white stiff wing collar and a band after three decades of donning daura suruwal (men) and saree (women).
On July 31, 2006, the Supreme Court under the then chief justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi had decided to do away with white daura suruwal, black coat, black cap (bhadgaonle topi) for male judges and saree, blouse and black coat for female judges. Rule 110 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1992, was amended and a provision to let the apex court determine judges’ attire was inserted.
“The SC has taken long to come up with a new dress code but we hope it will be finalised soon,” Til Prasad Shrestha, Hetauda Appellate Court judge, who was involved in drafting the third five-year strategic plan of the judiciary, told The Himalayan Times today.
Shrestha said, “Managing common uniform for the Tarai, hilly and mountain regions is difficult due to difference in climate across the country, as wearing daura suruwal and black coat in Tarai in summers is next to impossible.”
One of the major reasons why it has taken SC eight years to come up with a dress code to replace daura suruwal is the short tenure of chief justices.
The political change of 2006 in a way spurred the amendment but determining non-controversial uniform for judges was cited when the apex court decided to do away with daura suruwal and saree, which in fact were introduced under the influence of Panchayati patriotism.
According to former attorney general Sarbagya Ratna Tuladhar, in 1982, the then chief justice, Dhanendra Bahadur Singh, had introduced white daura suruwal, black coat, black cap (bhadgaonle topi) and black leather shoes for male judges and saree, blouse and black coat for female judges. The decision was influenced by the then political regime, he added.
Many lawyers are in favour of a dress code for judges and lawyers that has been in vogue internationally in order to follow international practice and maintain the image for the judiciary. Former attorney general Tuladhar stressed on discipline in the judiciary no matter what attire the judges and lawyers appeared in the court.
“We used to attend the courtroom in international attire and thought that it could help show us different from the common people and to maintain the image of judiciary and discipline,” Tuladhar recalled.
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