Justice Poonam A. Bamba was born on the 1st of September, 1961 in Delhi and did her schooling there. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science with honours in Botany from Hansraj College, Delhi University, in 1980. She completed her LL.B. in 1983 and her LL.M. in 1988 from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University. She holds a Diploma in Administrative Law from the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.
She practised as an advocate in Delhi District Courts and High Courts from 1983 to 1987. From 1987 to 1996, she was a law officer at Punjab National Bank and a Deputy Chief Officer (Law) at the Central Bank of India, and from 1996 to 2002, she was a Division Chief (Legal) and Joint Legal Advisor at the Securities and Exchange Board of India. She represented these banks and SEBI before various courts in India and also the Securities Appellate Tribunal in Mumbai.
She’s a trained mediator and has attended international training programmes (a month-long programme on capital markets) at Baruch College in New York, USA. Another programme on investigation and enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was held in Washington, USA, and she has attended various conferences of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
She joined the Delhi Higher Judicial Service on the 5th of December, 2002. During her tenure of approximately 19 years, she presided over various jurisdictions: Matrimonial Court, Family Court as Judge or Principal Judge, Land Acquisition Court, Appellate Court under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Act of 1971, Session Courts, Special Judge, CBI at Patiala House Courts.
She remained posted as a District and Sessions Judge in different districts for about 5 years. That is in the South-East District, Saket, from 8th December 2016 to 30th April 2017. From 1st May 2017 to 28th May 2019, he was the Principal District and Sessions Judge at New Delhi District, Patiala House Courts, and from 29th May 2019 to 31st August 2021, he was the Principal District and Sessions Judge at South District, Saket Courts Complex. She was elevated as a permanent judge of the High Court of Delhi on March 28, 2022.
She authored four books: “Perfect Marriage-Not a Mirage”, “How to Save Your Marriage (2nd Edition),” “Temple of Justice-A School of Life”, and “Parents at War-Custody Battles in Indian Courts”. She published articles on various subjects in the journals of the Delhi Judicial Academy, the National Stock Exchange, and the Central Bank of India.
She was a Guest Faculty/Resource Person at Delhi Judicial Academy, Dwarka, Delhi; UTI Institute of Capital Markets, Mumbai; Training Institute, Stock Holding Corporation of India, Mumbai; Northern India Bankers’ Staff Training College, Delhi; and Zonal Staff Training College, Central Bank of India.
She’s a sportsperson and earned the title of ‘Best Athlete’ for the Law Faculty at the University of Delhi in 1983. She is a bird watcher and a keen observer of life and nature, and she has been a part of the creation of a micro forest and the adoption of trees at District Courts. She exhibits a special interest in the dynamics of human relationships. She’s on the path of self-knowledge and she’s been sharing “self-management” tools with others.
In the 2011 terror funding case, she convicted three of the four defendants. In 2018 and 2019, she also heard the case of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Few are aware that her father, Dr Janak Raj Jai (91), a 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. Her father 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, her father 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.
Before the emergency, Justice Bamba’s father left the government job and began his legal practise in Shahdara and Tis Hazari Courts and the Delhi HC. When PM Indira Gandhi imposed the emergency, her father wrote a letter to her, opposing this. Fearing his arrest, her father had gone underground. But when he came to know that the police were harassing his wife and children and threatening to seal his house in Shahdara, he surrendered. “The entire country was then held hostage, and MISA was the only law operating then,” her father said. Justice Bamba’s school-going brother did all kinds of sundry jobs to earn money. It was her mother’s struggle that inspired Justice Poonam to reach the level of the Delhi High Court Judge. “She has fulfilled our dream,” Justice Bamba’s father emotionally said. During her entire career, Justice Poonam 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.
During the Emergency, Justice Poonam’s brother, Rajiv Jai, a noted lawyer, used to make lifafe and sell them to run the house kitchen. Rajiv is Chairman of the Coordination Council of All Bar Associations, a member of the Indian Olympic Association’s Legal Committee, Vice-President of the Delhi Olympic Association and a former President of the New Delhi District Bar Association.
Justice Bamba is married to a former senior bureaucrat, Anil Bamba (presently, Member, District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Delhi). Before retiring from the Central Government, Anil worked in a senior position in Border Management (Home Ministry). The couple has two sons—Ishaan and Apoorv.
She is an inspiration and a role model for many people; by reading and understanding her struggles throughout the journey, others may gain strength and hope that if she can do it, so can they.
Image Source: Sunday Guradian Live
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