No Jeans in Court, Dress ‘Decently’ in ‘Temple of Justice’: Justice Manjula Chellur

“Court is also a temple of justice and one should dress in moderate colours, and not dazzling colours. You should be decently dressed.”

Manjula Chellur. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Two weeks after retiring as the Chief Justice of the Bombay high court, Dr Manjula Chellur, in an interview to the Indian Express, has defended her earlier controversial observation about how journalists, like lawyers and judges, need to dress “decently” in a court room.

Earlier this year, on March 29, Chellur and justice G.S. Kulkarni, asked a national newspaper journalist, who was covering court proceedings wearing jeans and t-shirt, whether her attire was part of “Bombay culture”.

“How (can) journalists come to court wearing jeans and t-shirt?” Chellur had asked, while the bench wanted to know if there was any dress code that applied to journalists in court.

In the recent Indian Express interview, Chellur said, “Lawyers and judges have a dress code. I don’t expect others to come in uniform. But if you go jogging, you wear shorts. They can’t be worn when you go to college. You can’t even sit cross-legged in the court room. Court is also a temple of justice and one should dress in moderate colours, and not dazzling colours. You should be decently dressed. After all, the media are also officers of court.”

Earlier the Chief Justice of the Kerala and Calcutta high courts, Chellur said she had asked the Kolkata court staff not to attend court wearing jeans. Neither did she allow visitors who were not dressed properly to enter court room.

Chellur was the second woman judge to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the Bombay high court. She was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court in 2012, and later transferred to the Calcutta high court. She took charge of the Bombay high court as Chief justice in August 2016.

This however is not the first time that judges have made controversial observations on dress code.

Earlier this year, the Himachal Pradesh high court, had laid down a dress code for litigants. In August 2017, a division bench of the Himachal Pradesh high court comprising justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Ajay Mohan Goel, expressed its displeasure when a lady government servant appeared before the bench wearing a “multi-coloured check shirt and jeans”. The bench then said that all “litigants, more particularly, government officers and officials should be dressed, if not formally, at least appropriately or else they may start dressing more indiscreetly.”

With inputs from PTI

  • Partha Dutt

    I agree with you to a certain degree, but do appreciate that there must
    be method in madness. The Hon’ble Court is not someone’s backyard, nor is a cafe
    where you may saunter in dressed in casuals.
    BTW the Chief
    Justice does not involve himself/herself with trial matters….. please
    learn about the Judiciary before commenting..