Judge takes exception to 'your ladyship' address

Judge takes exception to 'your ladyship' address

A judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh took exception to her being addressed as “your ladyship” by Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda during a recent court hearing.

The advocate general unintentionally departed from the usual “your lordship”address to judges.

What followed was a gripping discussion on how a woman judge needed to be addressed in the courtroom. The issue has also triggered a debate on social media, with Nanda now stepping in with his view point.

As Nanda addressed the judge as your ladyship, Justice Daya Chaudhary interrupted him, asserting that a judge or an advocate does not have any gender and his address tends to qualify precisely that. Nanda wasted no time in saying that his intention was certainly not to underline the gender of a judge.

Justice Daya asked Nanda how he would feel if a woman lawyer addressed him in court as “this man” instead of “my lawyer friend”. She maintained that she had no problem even if she was not addressed as your lordship in the courtroom. Nanda relented and said he would henceforth address her as “lordship”.

On social media, Nanda posted that he has the highest regard for the judiciary and Justice Daya.

“I believe this is much of a non-issue, but there was a reason behind my actions. Titles are gender neutral, whereas forms of direct address are appropriately gender specific. Hence, the prefix title ‘justice’ before a judge’s name is gender neutral. Just as you may have doctor, general or commissioner (for a police officer), irrespective of whether the holder of the office is a man or a woman,” he said. 

He said when addressing a judge, one reverts to your ladyship or your lordship, just as one would say madam or sir for other titles. “... Every judge is the master of her or his court and if Justice Daya wishes to be addressed as ‘lordship’, then we must bow down to her wishes,” he wrote.

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