Senior lawyers take to Facebook, debate on “Your Ladyship”Punjab AG Atul Nanda’s reply

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Bar & Bench had recently published a piece on the exchange between Justice Daya Chaudhary of the Punjab & Haryana High Court and the state’s Advocate General Atul Nanda regarding use of the “Your Ladyship” to address the judge.

The piece sparked an online discussion on the Facebook Post of Bar & Bench.

Advocate General Nanda himself commented on the said post. Here is his comment:

“I have been reading with some interest the debate which has sparked on my addressing Justice Daya Chaudhary of the P&H High Court as “Your Ladyship”. I have the highest regard for the judiciary and the Judge in question and I must hence make clear certain aspects. I believe this is much of a non issue but there was reason behind my actions. Titles are gender neutral whereas forms of direct address are appropriately gender specific. Hence the prefix title “Justice” before a Judges name is gender neutral. Just as you may have Doctor, General (for an army officer) or Commissioner (for a police officer), irrespective of whether the holder of the office is a man or a woman. But when addressing a specific judge one reverts to Your Ladyship or your Lordship. Just as one would say Madam or Sir for the other titles I have mentioned. One exception I think is royal titles which is the other way around. Hence you would have the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge but a generic ” Your Royal Highness” during direct speech. There is no higher office than that of the President of India and the correct form of direct address for President Pratibha Patil would have been “Madam” , “Ma’am” or “Madam President” and not “Sir”. I am of course open to correction in my understanding. Every Judge is the master of her /his Court and if Justice Chaudhary wishes to be addressed as “Lordship” then we must bow down to her wishes. This was, really speaking, a benign conversation in a court room between a Judge and a counsel and hardly one which ought to have occupied so much print space.”

Interestingly, it was not just Nanda who replied to the post. Senior Advocate Rana Mukherjee also joined the discussion. He too was of the opinion that the discussion was a waste of time. Below is his reply.