A brief look on the origins of courtroom essentials

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Lady Justice

  • Sword
    • Lady Justice often carries a sword in one hand. The sword is a historical symbol of authority, wielded by kings, emperors, and generals. It is therefore one of the earliest symbols of justice, as the power of a monarch could be delivered with a stroke of the sword. Additionally, the sword has an esteemed place in ceremony even today, as people who are knighted are touched upon the shoulders with a blade. Lady Justice's sword advances the concept that justice can be swift and final.
  • Blind Justice
    • The blindfold she wears symbolizes the philosophy that justice should be rendered "without passion or prejudice." Considering only the facts on her scale, Lady Justice does not bother with letting emotional impressions of the accused enter into the implicit equation. All are fair before the facts of the case and the judgment of Justice. Not all depictions of Lady Justice feature the blindfold, however.
  • Other Features
    • Lady Justice wears the garments of classic Greece and Rome. This owes to her origins as an interpretation of Justitia. It also serves to underscore the place of the toga in western tradition; such garments represented civilization and philosophy. A popular expression in ancient Rome was: "Cedant arma togae," which means "Let arms (war) give way to the toga (civil power)

Also read: Supreme Court Judgements Online

Scales of Justice

Since the Initial days of the system of law scenario started in Rome, the scales of justice have been used to identify the proper balance between truth and fairness sought after in the legal proceedings.

Different meanings and perspectives

  • Astrological Meaning
    • The scales of justice are very similar to the scales represented by the constellation of Libra. The constellation takes the shape of a scale because it represents an equal balance of the Zodiac. The Constellations of Words website points out that the word "Libra" is based on the Greek words for "level" and "equilibrium," also founding principles for the modern system of justice.
  • Egyptian Mythological Meaning
    • The British Museum offers a stunning interpretation of a papyrus linked to the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In the ancient text, the deceased were judged by placing their hearts on a scale, a ritual called the negative confession. This Ma'at scale, as it was called, is perhaps the earliest reference to the scales of justice.
    • The scales date back to Egyptian times when the god Anubis was invariably depicted with a set of scales to weigh a deceased person's soul against the Feather of Truth. The modern interpretation filters through the Enlightenment's focus on reason, as Lady Justice weighs the factors of a case to render a verdict. The scales imply a mechanistic, rational process; too much weight (evidence) on one side will cause the scales to tilt in favor of innocence or guilt.
  • Greek Mythological Meaning
    • The modern symbol known as the "scales of justice" has a solid basis in Greek mythology. The goddess Themis was a titan and consultant for the great god Zeus. Early depictions of Themis show her blindfolded, carrying a set of scales. Therefore, Themis provides a link between the scales of justice and the interpretation of divine justice by the early Greeks. .


The gavel is used in a court of law to keep the court proceedings calm and orderly.

A gavel is a small ceremonial mallet commonly made of hardwood, typically fashioned with a handle and often struck against a sound block to enhance its sounding qualities. It is a symbol of the authority and right to act officially in the capacity of a chair or presiding officer. It is used to call for attention or to punctuate rulings and proclamations. It is customarily struck to indicate the opening (call to order) and closing (adjournment) of proceedings, giving rise to the phrase gavel-to-gavel to describe the entirety of a meeting or session, and to indicate that an item has been sold in an auction. It is also commonly used in United States courts by judges.  History is vague, but there are references to the word in Medieval England in reference to a tribute or rent payment made with something other than cash. These agreements were set in an English land court with the sound of a "gavel".

Black  Dress

Generally wearing normal and glittery costumes in the courtroom is considered disrespectful to the law.

In the courtroom dress code is a 'Symbol of Confidence', a 'Symbol of Discipline' and a 'Symbol of the Profession', a 'Proud Part of an Individual’s Personality for professionalism.


In most countries of the world justices wear black, or at the very least garments with some black trim or lining. The traditional story holds that the custom began in 17th Century England. England when robes were adopted in 1685 was symbolic of mourning for King Charles II. In 1694 all the nation's judges attended the funeral of Queen Mary (1662-1694) dressed in black robes as a sign of mourning, and because the queen was so beloved, they kept mourning for many years afterward. Britain then became a great global superpower that everyone either copied or was conquered by, which led to black robes becoming the de facto world standard. This is obviously a fairly broad explanation that sounds more than a little apocryphal, but most historians generally accept its broad shape of it.

At the same time, black was a broadly popular color in 17th Century Europe in general. Both Catholics and Protestant clergy began wearing black around this time, and the color has long been associated with Godly authority and dignity as a result. 17th Century Puritan Protestants, who were quite socially and politically influential in England, Holland, and Scandinavia, considered black the most neutral and unpretentious color, and thus appropriate for people in positions of trust and dignity. 

Black was also just a broadly fashionable color with a lot of people in those days — as it is now. Chances are, there was no one factor that got judges wearing black in the 17th century, but rather a milieu of distinct — but related — European cultural influences.In any case, as we shall see, the idea that judges only wear black is a bit of a myth to begin with. Red is easily the second-most popular color for judicial robes, and it's a color with dramatically different cultural associations. 

Today, when a new court is being set up somewhere, judges wear black simply because it's expected. But that is the custom started by the British. They did so because it was the fashion of that particular era or they probably used it because of the local climatic conditions. As the rulers, they imposed the same culture and customs on the `colonies’ they acquired without taking into consideration the local climatic requirements or general socio-economic conditions. However, many of these `colonies’ continued with the legacy and adopted the same system, the same culture, the same laws, and even the same dress without any changes even after they freed themselves from the imperial rule. 

For example, in India as well as in its neighboring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh situation remains the same after decades of independence. Though certain amendments were made in-laws and the Constitutions, however, the issue of the dress code has been overlooked.

Dress code scenario in Indian courts

In India, the Advocate’s Act 1961 makes it mandatory for advocates appearing in the supreme court., high courts, subordinate courts, tribunals, or authorities to wear a dress that is sober and dignified. The dress code is not merely a status symbol, but brings out discipline among lawyers and gives them the confidence to fight for justice. The dress code also differentiates the lawyers from other professionals. Black is the color of authority and power. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. So is the case with lawyers. Their submissions are towards justice. white band symbolizes innocence and purity.


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