A group of retired Judicial Officers from the state of Gujarat have addressed a letter to the High Court, seeking relaxation for Subordinate Judicial Officers from wearing black coats, as precautionary measure to contain spread of Covid-19.
The letter has been penned by Sh. JB Dhadhal, ADJ(R); Sh. NM Vyas, ADJ(R); Sh. Yashodharaben Pandya, PDJ(R); Sh. PA Vaghela, ADJ(R); Sh. BL Dabhi, ADJ(R); and KP Vegad, SrCJ, highlighting that the High Court's decision to relax the dress code only for lawyers and not for judicial officers is "discriminatory" in nature.
On May 15, the Gujarat High Court had issued a Circular exempting the Advocates appearing before the High Court as well as the Subordinate courts from wearing black coats and gowns, as a precautionary measure to contain the virus.
The addressees are aggrieved by the fact that the said circular has not been made applicable to the Judicial Officers, despite the CJI Bobde's remarks that judges, lawyers should not wear jacket and gown for the time being as it "makes it easier to catch virus".
The letter has thus been addressed to the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, Justice Vikram Nath and a copy of the same has been sent to CJI SA Bobde, stating,
"We undersigned are painfully surprised that such precautionary measure of protection to Judicial Officers of Subordinate Courts, to contain spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) among them, is not considered at par with the Advocates while issuing this circular. This has brought feeling of discrimination in minds of Subordinate Judicial Officers and their family members."
The officers have requested the Judges to direct the concerned branch of the High Court to issue a similar circular and give relaxation to Subordinate Judicial Officers from wearing black coats, until the medical exigency subsides.
"Such decision, if taken, will bring feeling among Subordinate Judicial Officers that Hon'ble High Court is kind enough in providing protection and safety to them also, like it did in case of advocates appearing in subordinate Courts," the letter states.
Significantly, the above mentioned retired Judicial Officers have created a formal "Association for Judges", whether in-service or retired from service, with the aim to collect information regarding difficulties faced by Judicial Officers at various levels and make representations for resolution of the same before appropriate authorities.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had relaxed the dress code for Advocates appearing before it through video conferencing. The Top Court did away with the requirement of wearing gowns, for the time being. Following the lead, the Bar Council of India has issued an Administrative Order the very next day, reiterating that the same for Advocates throughout the country.
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