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Supreme Court judge Indu Malhotra to women lawyers: No palazzo pants, dress professionally

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Newest judge of the top court says palazzos and 3/4th trousers are not ‘professional attire’. Senior women advocates agree but some juniors don’t.

New Delhi: In a sea of black, women lawyers at the Supreme Court stand out in pops of colour. Restrained by the prescribed dress code of black and white, some women advocates express their fashion sense through hand bags, watches and baubles that include rings, watches, ear rings and make up.

However, the newest Supreme Court judge, Justice Indu Malhotra, expressed her reservations over the casual attitude of young women advocates towards their attire.

At a lunch hosted in her honour Thursday, Malhotra shared her dislike for palazzo pants and 3/4th trousers in particular. Even though these pants – fitted at the waist, loose towards the hem, are chic and casual, perfect for the hot Delhi summer, they do not really fall under the category of “professional attire”, she said, giving the example of a female senior advocate who is always smartly dressed in western formals when she appears in court.

Senior advocates agree

Speaking to ThePrint, senior advocate V. Mohana, who was present at the lunch, said Malhotra’s advice was directed more towards junior advocates. Mohana said she, along with those other senior lawyers she interacted with, agreed with Malhotra’s advice.

“I agree with Justice Malhotra when she said appearance matters and what we wear to court makes a difference,” she said. “We must adhere to the uniform prescribed by the bar council and dress professionally, otherwise we won’t be taken seriously.”

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who was also present at the lunch hosted at the ladies’ bar room within the Supreme Court premises, expressed her solidarity with the new judge and tweeted: “I join Ms Justice Indu Malhotra in appealing to women Lawyers to be well attired and professionally dressed in court. She was herself one of the best dressed professionally attired women Lawyer.” (sic)

Advocate Madhavi Divan also agreed with the judge and said: “We women are anyway at a disadvantage. How one dresses and appears in court makes an impression. One should always be professionally attired in court.”

However, a junior advocate who was present at the lunch — and did not want to be identified — took exception to the advice. “It is understood that one doesn’t come to court in jeans and a t-shirt, but I don’t see anything wrong with palazzo pants and ankle-length pants. One must be comfortable in what we wear, since we are running around in court all day long,” the advocate said.

“If worn appropriately and in the right combination, palazzos and ankle length pants can also be formal.”

Other advice

Malhotra, a former lawyer who was sworn in as an SC judge last month, shared her advice on various other issues too, most importantly on the conduct of lawyers in court.

She asked juniors to come to court daily, even if they do not have any briefs, and learn the finer points of debate from the senior advocates.

She also said lawyers must come fully briefed, and should know how to balance one’s personal life with work.

इस लेख को हिंदी में पढ़ें : प्लाज़ो की जगह प्रोफेशनल पोशाक में आएं महिला एडवोकेट: सुप्रीम कोर्ट जज इंदु मल्होत्रा का निर्देश

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