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ADJ Kamini Lau moves Supreme Court against contempt action initiated by Delhi HC
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ADJ Kamini Lau moves Supreme Court against contempt action initiated by Delhi HC

Murali Krishnan

Additional District Judge (ADJ) Kamini Lau, against whom the Delhi High Court had recently initiated contempt action, has moved the Supreme Court challenging the said judgment.

The matter came up today before a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, when Justice Khanwilkar chose to recuse from the case.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the appellant.

In a judgment on December 22 by Justices Valmiki Mehta and Indermeet Kaur, the High Court had rebuked the ADJ in strong words for making what it termed as “unacceptable and unfounded statements” with respect to observations contained in judicial orders passed by a single judge bench of the High Court.

The judgment was borne out of four applications filed by Kamini Lau, who is an Additional District Judge at Tis Hazari. Lau, in her applications, had sought expunction of certain adverse remarks/observations made by a single judge of the Delhi High Court in four separate orders. The remarks/observations were against the orders passed by the ADJ in cases before her.

The High Court in its judgment considered the submissions made by Lau regarding the remarks/observations by the single judge.

Relying on Supreme Court judgments, it was held that though High Courts should not make unwarranted, disparaging comments against judicial officers, the power to make critical observations is undoubted.

“The observations made by the High Court against a judicial officer of the subordinate court however if are only in the nature of judicial comments, i.e. of judicial nature and the observations made cannot be faulted for their lack of sobriety, then in such a case the observation so made by this court cannot be said to be in the nature of adverse remarks or strictures or negative, disparaging remarks personally against the judicial officer.”

It then proceeded to consider the alleged remarks made by the single judge in his four orders and held that there was nothing personal or disparaging in them. Holding that the applications filed by the ADJ are “clearly misconceived”, the Court had dismissed the four applications.

Further, taking note of her submissions made in her applications, the Court had held that it was of the prima facie opinion that ADJ Kamini Lau is guilty of criminal contempt of court as her averments tend to scandalize or lower the authority of the Court.

It had, therefore, issued notice to Kamini Lau and directed that the matter be listed on February 16 before the Bench hearing criminal contempt petitions.

Update 15:30: The matter was heard in the afternoon by a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice DY Chandrachud, which asked the Additional District Judge to tender an unconditional apology to the Delhi High Court and proceeded to defer the matter.