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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Denied entry in courtroom: Apex Court says wearing cap ‘against decorum’

Denied entry in courtroom: Apex Court says wearing cap ‘against decorum’

Ishfaq Tantry
Srinagar, April 23: Spotting a skull cap in the Supreme Court is against the decorum and security guards at the entrance may stop entry of the visitor or an aspiring law graduate wearing it.

This was revealed in response to an RTI application filed by Mansoor Ahmad, a Kashmiri law student, who was recently barred from entering the courtrooms of the India’s Apex Court when he was wearing a black sherwani and a skull cap.

Mansoor, a final year law student at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) had arrived at the Supreme Court with 82 other BA LLB final-year students for an internship programme that started March 10.

Confident that lawyers were allowed to wear caps as part of their Sherwani-pajama dress code, he arrived at the courtrooms of Supreme Court clad in the same dress. However, to his dismay and disbelief, security guards at the entrance stopped him several times saying “he cannot enter the court wearing a cap”.

In fact, the black Sherwani-Pajama along with the skull cap is the official dress at AMU, India’s only Muslim University and the faculty and varsity students wear the dress with pride.

Determined not to remove his cap, Mansoor took up the matter with the Supreme Court registry and subsequently filed an RTI application before Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court and CPIO, Rajpal Arora.

In his RTI application dated 23 March 2010, Mansoor sought information for his two queries under section 6 of RTI Act 2005.

“Please provide me information whether a visitor or an intern law student can enter court rooms of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India with cap on his head after due security check,” Mansoor sought information in the RTI application. “In case, he isn’t allowed to do so, please provide a copy of the law, regulation, notification or any other instruction in its support.”

Mansoor said that too his disbelief, the reply he got to the RTI application from the Additional Registrar was equally “astonishing”.

The reply from the CPIO Vide Dy No 1469/RTI/09-10/SCI dated 10 April 2010, the copy of which is with the Rising Kashmir read: “With reference to your application dated 23 March 2010, I write to inform you that the answer is in negative and decorum does not allow.”

In addition to making an RTI application, Mansoor also lodged his protest with the Registrar of the Supreme Court through a representation, a copy of which was addressed to Chief Justice of India.

In this representation, he sighted 1961 Advocates Act under which “Sherwani with a black cap is permissible in the courts”.

The representation further read: “The conduct of the security guards is highly unwarranted because there is no express bar in respect of wearing of the cap in the premises of the court and court rooms. This is personal harassment to me. You are humbly requested to look into the matter.”

Quoting the registrar, Mansoor said: “In reply, the registrar told me not to make an issue out of it saying, ‘You are here for the training. What will happen if you remove your cap while entering the court room’?”

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