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On My Radar: Delhi HC’s New Woman Judge’s Father Was Jailed by Indira Gandhi

NewsOn My Radar: Delhi HC’s New Woman Judge’s Father Was Jailed by Indira Gandhi

Delhi HC’s New Woman Judge’s Father Was Jailed by Indira Gandhi
Poonam A. Bamba (61), a bright Judicial Officer, was elevated as the Judge of the Delhi High Courton Monday. Few are aware that her father, Dr Janak Raj Jai (91), veteran Delhi lawyer, was jailed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for raising his voice against the imposition of the Emergency. Jai’s wife and six children had to go through a traumatic period as he spent 19 months in Tihar Jail. Soft spoken and low profile, Poonam Bamba took oath along with another woman judge, Swarana Kanta Sharma; both earlier served as District and Sessions Judges in the Capital.
Jai has captured those traumatic days of the Emergency in his 40th book—Emergency Excesses: A Daylight Robbery of Human Rights and JP the Saviour. Interestingly, Jai had earlier worked on the personal staff of the first two PMs, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri, and also with Indira Gandhi, when she was the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister.

Veteran lawyer Dr Janak Raj Jai.

Before the Emergency, Jai left the government job and began his legal practice in Shahdara and Tis Hazari Courts and the Delhi HC. And when PM Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency, Jai wrote a letter to her, opposing this. “This was my only fault and she put me in jail,” Jai told The Sunday Guardian. Fearing his arrest, Jai had gone underground. But when he came to know the police were harassing his wife and the children (three girls and three boys) and threatening to seal his house in Shahdara, he surrendered. In jail, he had the company of many top erstwhile Jana Sangh and opposition leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sunder Singh Bhandari, O.P. Kohli and Charan Singh. “The entire country was then held hostage and MISA was the only law operating then,” Jai said. Jai’s school going sons did all kinds of sundry jobs to earn money. “It was due to my late wife’s struggle that my daughter, Poonam, has reached the level of the Delhi High Court Judge…she has fulfilled our dream,” an emotional Jai said. Poonam, during her entire career, has first gone to her father’s house in the evening to prepare a cup of tea for him, before reaching her own family home. “Dad is so old, and, after my mother’s death some years ago, he feels lonely. He is unable to visit us as our third floor home in Kailash Colony building doesn’t have a lift, and it’s difficult for him at this age to climb up narrow stairs,” Poonam said.

Brother Sold lifafe During Emergency
Poonam’s brother, Rajiv Jai, a noted lawyer, recall that “When father was in jail during the Emergency, I used to make lifafe and sell them, to run the house kitchen. Poonam’s elevation as a HC Judge is a proud moment for the entire family.” Rajiv is Chairman of Coordination Council of All Bar Associations, Member of the Indian Olympic Association’s Legal Committee, Vice-President, Delhi Olympic Association and former President of the New Delhi District Bar Association.

Oath of Office
On Monday, Acting DHC Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi administered the oath of office to Poonam Bamba and Swarana Kanta Sharma as Judges, taking the number of judges in the court to 35 against a sanctioned strength of 60; the number of women judges is now nine. At the beginning of this year, the Supreme Court Collegium had sent names of six Judicial Officers for elevation as the DHC Judges. But Law and Justice Ministry, in February, appointed only four of them as Judges—Neena Bansal Krishna, Dinesh Kumar Sharma, Anoop Kumar Mendiratta (former Union Law Secretary) and Sudhir Kumar Jain. For unknown reasons, the names of Poonam Bamba and Swarana Kanta Sharma, both having excellent record, were missing. Highly placed sources told The Sunday Guardian that an upset SC collegium took up the matter with the Law Ministry, which finally cleared their names for elevation as the DHC Judges. Poonam Bamba is a product of Delhi University’s Hans Raj College (B.Sc. Botany (Hon), Law Faculty (LLB & LLM), andIndian Law Institute (Diploma in Administrative Law). She was the best athlete of Law Faculty in 1983. Swarana Kanta Sharma was the District Judge of Rohini District of Delhi.

Poonam, A Keen Bird Watcher
Married to a former senior bureaucrat, Anil Bamba (presently, Member, District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Delhi), Poonam is a keen bird watcher and loves going to wildlife sanctuaries. Before retiring from the Central Government, Anil worked at a senior position in the Border Management (Home Ministry). The couple have two sons—the younger one, Ishaan, and Apoorv. A trained mediator, Poonam is an authority on family courts matters. She has authored four interesting books: Perfect Marriage- Not a Mirage, How to Save your Marriage,
Temple of Justice-A School of Life and
Parents at War (Custody Battles in Indian Courts). In these books, she has recorded her experience of the period when she was a Judge at the Family Courts in Rohini, Tis Hazari and Saket Courts.

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