Women lawyers arranging their hair in "open court" disturbs the functioning of the court, stated a controversial notice allegedly issued by the Pune District Court, which has now been quietly withdrawn.
The notice dated 20 October, which directed women advocates to refrain from "such an act" of fixing their hair, has received backlash from within the legal community and otherwise.
"Yes, a notice was issued by the registrar. The poster has been removed now," a source told The Quint.
Slamming the order, Human Rights Advocate Sonali Shelar told The Quint, "I'm always surprised by the extent to which society tries to control women. This is one profession where you see unwarranted opinions like this being shared without any fear of being called out. The notice has now been taken down but it is a good example of the male gaze. Being asked to not "arrange their hair" – via a registrar notice no less – in a field where clients, seniors, and colleagues make casual remarks on our bodies and clothes is infuriating."
“It is repeatedly noticed that women advocates are arranging their hair in open court, which is disturbing the functioning of the Court. Hence, women advocates are hereby notified to refrain from such act," the notice from the Registrar's office at the Pune District Court stated.
'Who Is Distracted by Women Advocates?': Indira Jaising
"Success at last, the notice had been withdrawn. Thank you everyone," Senior Advocate Indira Jaising tweeted on Tuesday, 25 October.
On Sunday, Jaising had shared a photo of the notice on Twitter, expressing her shock at the directive. "Wow now look ! Who is distracted by women advocates and why !" she had asked.
Tanvi Dubey, advocate at the Supreme Court, notes, "The Bar Council of India has laid out a dress code for lawyers, with specific rules for women advocates as well. Those rules are followed, and there is no requirment for a sub-order... This is a thoughtless decision. Will the same rule be implemented for men?"
"The biggest question is, how is women arranging their hair a cause for commotion in the court? If the mere sight of women in unruly hair is causing them trouble, will they ban the entry of women in courts tomorrow? This is a bad precedent set by one court, and a dangerous precedent for the country as well," Advocate Dubey adds.Advocate Tanvi Dubey
'No Notice Received': Pune Bar Association
"The Pune Bar Association has over 80,000 members. Any notice issued by the court for lawyers is first sent to us. Then we make it a regulation. We have not received any such notice so far."Pune Bar Association President Advocate Pandurang Thorve
"There were photos on social media that such a notice was pasted in court premises. I went there yesterday, and found no such notice. Also, photography isn't allowed inside the court," he added.
'Nothing About Male Lawyers Intimidating Women'
A number of women lawyers and others had also taken to Twitter to assert their outrage.
"Nothing about male lawyers intimidating women lawyers (including senior advocates) in open court but women advocates arranging their hair in court is disturbing the functioning," wrote one Twitter user.
Another said, "Already crores of cases are pending before the court hall in India and many innocents are waiting for their justices. But, our courts are concentrating the female advocates hair adjustment in the court hall."