‘Too Much Heat’ Hits Delhi Great Courts, Judges Ask Lawyers to Ditch Robes

By manish198832 May31,2024

Too Much Heat Hits Delhi Great Courts

Too Much Heat-Introduction

Too Much Heat-Delhi, the capital of India, is grappling with soaring temperatures that are taking a toll on the daily operations of its courts. A regulation in place since 1961 mandates that lawyers don heavy black robes and coats, which has become increasingly burdensome in the sweltering heat. In response to the extreme weather, some high courts have allowed lawyers to forgo these traditional garments during the summer months. The Supreme Court is now facing calls to extend this relaxation to all lawyers nationwide.

Too Much Heat-The Heat Wave’s Impact on Delhi Courts

Too Much Heat-Delhi’s summer temperatures can reach alarming levels, often exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). This intense heat poses significant challenges, especially in the absence of adequate air conditioning and water supply in court buildings. The physical discomfort caused by the mandatory attire exacerbates the situation for lawyers, judges, and other court personnel.

Too Much Heat-Recently, the lack of proper cooling systems has forced judges in one New Delhi court to postpone a case until later in the year. This decision underscores the severity of the issue and the urgent need for practical solutions to maintain the functionality of the judicial system during extreme weather conditions.

Too Much Heat-Historical Context of the Dress Code

Too Much Heat-The dress code requiring lawyers to wear black robes and coats dates back to the British colonial era. Introduced in 1961, this regulation was intended to maintain a sense of decorum and uniformity within the judiciary. The attire symbolizes the solemnity and gravity of legal proceedings, reflecting the profession’s dignity and respect.

Too Much Heat-However, this dress code did not account for India’s diverse climate, particularly the extreme heat experienced in regions like Delhi. As a result, lawyers have long struggled with the discomfort of wearing such heavy garments during the hot summer months.

Too Much Heat

Too Much Heat-Recent Developments in High Courts

Too Much Heat-In light of the recent heat wave, at least three high courts have taken proactive measures to address the issue. These courts have permitted lawyers to discard their robes and coats during the summer. This temporary relaxation aims to alleviate the physical discomfort and health risks associated with wearing heavy garments in extreme heat.

Too Much Heat-For example, the Delhi High Court has allowed lawyers to appear in court without their robes and coats, provided they still adhere to the formal dress code by wearing white shirts, black trousers, and neckbands. Similar measures have been adopted by other high courts, including those in Punjab and Haryana, where temperatures can also soar during the summer months.

Too Much Heat-Calls for a Nationwide Change

The Supreme Court of India is now under pressure to implement a similar rule across the country. Advocates argue that the current dress code is outdated and impractical, especially given the challenges posed by climate change and rising temperatures. They contend that a more flexible dress code would not only improve the comfort and well-being of legal professionals but also enhance the efficiency of court proceedings.

Several senior lawyers and bar associations have voiced their support for this change. They emphasize the need for a dress code that is adaptable to different climates while still maintaining the professionalism and decorum of the judiciary. The Supreme Court’s decision on this matter could set a precedent for courts nationwide, potentially leading to a permanent revision of the dress code.

Health and Safety Considerations

The health and safety of lawyers and court staff are paramount concerns in the ongoing debate about the dress code. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures while wearing heavy clothing can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These conditions can have serious consequences, including dehydration, dizziness, and even loss of consciousness.

By allowing lawyers to wear lighter clothing during the summer, courts can help mitigate these health risks. This change would enable legal professionals to perform their duties more effectively without compromising their well-being. Additionally, a more comfortable working environment could lead to increased productivity and better overall morale within the judiciary.

International Perspectives on Legal Attire

A review of legal attire in other countries reveals a trend towards more practical and climate-appropriate dress codes. For instance, in many common law jurisdictions, lawyers are allowed to wear lighter clothing during the summer or in regions with hot climates. Countries like Australia and Canada have adapted their dress codes to accommodate local weather conditions while still preserving the formal appearance of the judiciary.

In the United Kingdom, the birthplace of the traditional barrister’s attire, there have been discussions about modernizing the dress code to reflect contemporary needs and environmental considerations. These international examples highlight the feasibility and benefits of adopting a more flexible approach to legal attire.

The Path Forward

As Delhi and other parts of India continue to experience extreme weather patterns, the judiciary must adapt to ensure the health and efficiency of its operations. The temporary relaxation of the dress code by some high courts is a positive step in this direction. However, a more permanent solution is needed to address the ongoing challenges posed by the country’s diverse climate.

The Supreme Court’s response to the calls for a nationwide rule change will be crucial in shaping the future of legal attire in India. A thoughtful and pragmatic approach that balances tradition with practicality could lead to a dress code that better serves the needs of the judiciary and the legal profession as a whole.


The intense heat in Delhi has brought to light the challenges associated with the traditional dress code for lawyers. As high courts take measures to alleviate the discomfort faced by legal professionals, there is a growing consensus on the need for a more flexible and climate-appropriate dress code. The Supreme Court’s potential endorsement of this change could pave the way for a modernized approach to legal attire, ensuring the well-being of those who serve in the judiciary while maintaining the dignity and professionalism of the legal profession.

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