The Madras High Court Advocates Association resolution says judicial member Patne referred “derisively” to the Service Bar Association as a “footpath association” which reveals her “utter arrogance and reveals a total lack of judicial temper”.
TODAY, 222 advocates of the Madras High Court Advocates Association have issued a statement against judicial member Lata Baswaraj Patne, head of the department of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai.
The resolution says: “Her conduct does not inspire confidence in her impartiality, thus making her unfit to hold any judicial office.”
In the resolution passed by the general body of the Madras High Court Advocates Association, the advocates have raised concern over the special treatment reserved for advocates representing the government without any palpable reason.
The general body has particularly noted that the conduct of Patne is “shocking” and “alarming” after she ordered a senior advocate R. Sankarasubbu to “get out” during a proceeding in the afternoon of September 22, 2023.
Sankarasubbu is one of the foremost human rights lawyers in Chennai with over forty years of experience. He also happens to be Dalit.
Apparently, the outburst of Patne happened when Sankarasubbu “politely” requested that his case be posted before another Bench in which the judicial member would not be present.
As per the resolution, the request was made pursuant to the resolution passed by the general body of the Service Bar Association.
Service Bar Association is a small group of forty–fourty five members of the Madras High Court Bar.
On September 22, the Service Bar Association passed a resolution which states that all cases of advocates who are members of the association should be listed before a Bench of which Patne was not a part.
The resolution has alleged that ever since that day, Patne has been making biased remarks against advocates in open proceedings before lawyers and litigants.
The resolution stated: “On September 14, the said member dismissed a case filed by advocate L. Chandrakumar for default, despite his juniors seeking an adjournment to the next day.”
On September 19, the Service Bar Association gave a letter to the registrar of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai, to not post cases before Patne.
Similar requests were made by advocate L. Chandrakumar and senior advocate R. Vaigai before Patne.
As per the Madras High Court Advocates Association resolution, after some deliberation, Patne ordered the matters to be taken “not before her”.
She observed during a proceeding that advocates may send a letter to the registry for a change of posting before another Bench.
However, she then remarked that “Chennai Bar always alleges bias”.
As the Master of the Roster, Patne went back on her statement, and continued hearing the matter.
The Madras High Court Advocates Association resolution states: “A resolution was passed on September 22 to request for not posting cases before the said judicial member so that the litigants are not adversely affected and her bias does not result in injustice.”
In this context, when Sankarasubbu made a request, Patne “derisively” said that the Service Bar Association is a “footpath association” and that she has no respect for it.
“The conduct of the member shows utter arrogance and reveals a total lack of judicial temper,” the resolution avers.
The general body of the Madras High Court Advocates Association has called out the conduct of Patne ordering advocate Sankarasubbu to get out as “deplorable”.
The resolution says: “Madras High Court Advocates Association strongly condemns it.”
Further, the resolution concluded that various remarks made by Patne “reveals a deep-seated prejudice and bias against the members of the Chennai Bar”.
Patne has withheld the issuance of 150 Orders that were pronounced between January to April, 2023.
These Orders were pronounced by a Bench comprising two members of the Central Administrative Tribunal and considered as disposed of.
A public interest litigation was filed by Advocate L. Chandrakumar before the Madras High Court seeking the issuance of these Orders.
As per the Order of the Madras High Court, the Order copies were not issued on the ground that the administrative member of the two-member Bench retired and did not sign the complete judgment.
The Madras High Court Advocates Association resolution says that because of the petition, Patne seems to have taken the matter as a “personal affront”.