It’s Time to Give Le­gal Shorts Their Due

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Prac­tis­ing lawyers spend a life­time han­dling briefs — of vary­ing di­men­sions and dar­ing. The pro­fes­sion is also pre­sum­ably well ac­quainted with le­gal shorts, with­out those suc­cinct ex­po­si­tions, many an ar­gu­ment may not be able to cut to the chase. So, the class ac­tion over a fel­low law stu­dent’s at­tire ap­pears to be any­thing but a cut-and-dried case. Court at­tire has re­mained cu­ri­ously old fash­ioned in In­dia at a time when black robes have been dis­pensed with in many coun­tries, not to men­tion the black-and-white-only dress codes and horse­hair wigs. Of course, there are cases where lawyers have been up­braided in some coun­tries for ap­pear­ing in court in shorts, but it is ger­mane to note that in Ber­muda, shorts are ac­cepted le­gal dress. Even if the stu­dent de­cided to in­ter­pret the con­cept of le­gal shorts as a fash­ion state­ment, with­out mens rea and in­cul­pa­tory ev­i­dence, she can’t be deemed to have com­mit­ted any of­fence — ex­cept that of out­rag­ing her teacher’s sen­si­bil­i­ties, which is not against the law any­way. But the re­ported move by the Bar Coun­cil of In­dia to sug­gest that stu­dents adopt court at­tire even be­fore they for­mally en­ter the pro­fes­sion im­pinges on their free­dom of sar­to­rial ex­pres­sion, an im­por­tant part of col­le­giate life. Un­for­tu­nately, that is not against the law ei­ther. An out-of-court set­tle­ment is the only an­swer.

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