CLAIMS that functional constituency elections violate the Bill of Rights were rejected by Governor Chris Patten yesterday. Speaking at the first meet-the-public session since his second policy speech, Mr Patten said legal advice from the Attorney-General and two members of the Executive Council supported his argument. He was responding to questions from a member of the audience who said Mr Patten's retention of the functional constituency system placed in doubt his commitment to democracy. Human rights groups have criticised functional constituency elections - in which members of professional groupings elect a representative - because their limited franchise gives some members of society an additional vote. A representative from a grassroots pressure group, the United Ants, said: ''We have written to you to ask for the disclosure of legal advice and you wrote back to us without disclosing the source. How can we continue our discussion with you with such a reply?'' Quoting the source of his legal advice, Mr Patten said: ''I have taken the advice in good part and attempted, as far as I can, to put forward proposals which make our functional constituency system as fair as it possibly could be.'' But his argument was rejected by the chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Anthony Chiu Sin-wing, who said the elections were in fundamental contradiction with the Bill of Rights' guarantee that every individual should be entitled to equal rights in elections. Mr Chiu said an individual court hearing should be held to decide if the elections contradicted the bill. Mr Patten acknowledged that his hands were tied. ''For the time being, we are being bound into a system in which a large number of members are elected from functional constituencies,'' he said. He admitted the functional constituency elections would cause concern to some people, pointing to the fact that some people had the privilege of casting two votes. Another worry, according to Mr Patten, was that because of the small electorate in some of the constituencies, elections could be easily subject to manipulation. Mr Patten said what he could do under the system was to ensure the elections were operated in a fair way. He said the arrangements for the 1994 district board elections should have started immediately, but the Hong Kong Government was ''leaning back'' to give time for an agreement to be struck with China. Legislation for the 1995 Legislative Council election should be finished at the latest by next July to give time for the Boundary and Election Commission to go ahead with the arrangements for issues such as voter registration in the functional constituencies.