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2023 (2) TMI 489 - HC - Corporate Laws
Public Interest Litigation - imposition of dress code for advocates for appearance before the Tribunal - public servants within the meaning of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code - HELD THAT:- The impugned order is without jurisdiction and authority, and has no basis in law. It is trite legal position that the orders of the Tribunals, either judicial or administrative, are subject to judicial review of the High Courts, as they are subordinate to it. From the conjoint reading of Section 34 of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules, it is clear that only the High Courts can frame rules for dress code for the appearance of the Advocates before it, the courts and Tribunals, subordinate to it. In absentia, the rules in chapter IV of the Bar Council of India Rules shall prevail and the Tribunals have no authority to issue any instructions determining the dress code for the appearance of the advocates before it. When there are statutory rules framed by the competent authority and when the statute has conferred the powers on the High Court with reference to prescription of the dress code, any instruction, direction, advisory by the Tribunal, especially when it runs contrary to the statutory rules, is ultravires the Act, and without there being any source of power for issuance of such directions.
Thus, wearing of “gown” is only optional and not mandatory before any courts other than the Supreme Court or the High Court - Further, the power conferred under Rule 51 of the NCLT Rules, is for the purpose of discharging its functions under the Act in accordance with the principles of natural justice and equity and is not an enabling provision to be read along with Section 432 of the Companies Act, 2013, which deals only with right to legal representation, and cannot be meant to confer upon it the power to prescribe the dress code, more so when it is contrary to the Bar Council of India rules. Similarly, the words ‘such other powers” used in Rule 16 (f) of the NCLT Rules, 2016 has to be read keeping in mind the later part of the rule dealing with the administrative power of the President as head of the Tribunal, while dealing with the staff, and cannot be stretched to mean to include the power to frame any rule or issue any instruction, in the nature of the one impugned, to prescribe the dress code for the advocates.