Delhi HC extends relief to AAP leader Somnath Bharti from arrest

Delhi High court on Thursday protected controversial AAP MLA Somnath Bharti from arrest by directing the police not to take any coercive steps till pronouncement of judgement on his plea for anticipatory bail in a case of domestic violence lodged by his wife.

New Delhi: Delhi High court on Thursday protected controversial AAP MLA Somnath Bharti from arrest by directing the police not to take any coercive steps till pronouncement of judgement on his plea for anticipatory bail in a case of domestic violence lodged by his wife.

Before rising for the day, Justice Suresh Kait extended the protection from arrest to Bharti, granted on September 15, saying "there is no time left to pronounce the order. So, till then, no coercive steps be taken against Bharti."

The court, which reserved the order on anticipatory bail, declined the police's request to withdraw the protection given to him from arrest, asked what has the police done till today as the FIR was lodged on September 9.

"You (Police) failed to arrest him(Bharti) when he was not given protection from arrest by this court," the judge said.

The court also expressed concern saying it was conscious about the complainant and her children.

"Keeping in mind that the two children are suffering (due to the matrital discord) this matter needs some reconsideration," it said.

Appearing for Bharti, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan argued that the sum and substance of the FIR against the MLA was a matrimonial dispute which has been "blown out of proportion" in view of his "elected position".

Krishnan, assisted by advocate Vijay Aggarwal, questioned the need for custodial interrogation asking "what will they do with custodial interrogation? Beat a confession out of him? That would be inadmissible."

"So do they want to arrest him to make headlines or for the case," the lawyers asked, adding that Bharti was willing to sit across the table with his wife and resolve the issues.

Bharti's wife Lipika Mitra, who was present in court, said she was "not interested in any reconciliation" with him as he had mistreated and abused her when they were together.

During arguments that went for almost three hours, Delhi Police, through Special Public Prosecutor Shailendra Babbar, contended that custodial interrogation for Bharti was needed to recover dowry articles, kitchen knife with which he allegedly slit his wife's wrist and electronic evidence, which allegedly had some objectionable data to ensure safety of witnesses.

He also argued that Bharti did not come to the aid of his wife when she was "mauled by his dog" and alleged that he had tried to strangulate her when she was seven months pregnant, knowing she was diabetic and was suffering from hypertension.

Babbar said that Bharti had brought the dog three months before shifting with his wife and trained it to follow his advice. "The dog was following his master (Bharti) command," the police said, adding the dog had even attacked the girl child on the AAP MLA's direction.

Opposing his contention, Krishnan said the incident of knife was not mentioned in the FIR. "To hype the matter, knife has been introduced," he said.

With regard to the seizure of dowry articles from Bharti, Krishnan contended that his client was ready to deposit the money with the court to show his bonafide.

Bharti's counsel said the dog was a family member and it was falsely submitted that his client gave it a command to attack his wife and child.

The prosecutor also contended that Bharti concealed the fact that prior to this FIR, two other FIRs were lodged against him, including one in which he was booked under section 354 (molestation) of IPC which "speaks volumes about the attitude of Bharti towards women".

"This clearly shows that the accused is not only violent and outrageous at home, but is also similarly violent and outrageous before the general public at large," the prosecutor said.

Bharti's wife said "I do not want to get pregnant anymore as my husband is not faithful to me. I do not think anything will work after reconciliation."

The SPP contended that the petitioner, after getting indulgence from this court, had deliberately lodged a media hype and tried to intimidate the complainant.

"Showing scant regard to this court, the petitioner has been openly discussing merits of this case and trying to elicit some response from the complainant which could be used to his benefit.

"The accused not only tried to intimidate the complainant but also tried to pressurise the officers involved in the investigation of this case by making numerous calls, recording the same and playing it before media," he said.

He said "the accused person walked into police station at 2 am and threatened the officers present there to record his presence. He was evading his presence so far and misused the indulgence granted by this court."

The SPP opposed grant of any interim protection to Bharti saying said he was an influential person due to which no one was coming forward to depose against him.

The court then asked the AAP MLA's counsel why did he go to the police station at late night.

"Call him to the court tomorrow, and if he loves going to police station, then I will send him from here. ... Once you (Bharti) got relief, you act like a lion and go here and there," the judge remarked.

In his bail plea, Bharti has claimed that the offence under section 307 (attempt to murder) was not made out, as even the allegations made, did not show he had any intention of committing the offence. "Hence, the invocation of section 307 IPC is merely a ploy to harass the applicant," the petition said.

Countering his claim, the police said the act of strangulation and dragging her when she was pregnant attracts more serious offence than 307 of IPC.

Lipika had filed a complaint of domestic violence with Delhi Commission for Women on June 10 alleging that her husband had been abusing her since their marriage in 2010. She had also given a complaint to the police in this regard.

Delhi Police then registered an FIR against Bharti under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 498A (cruelty towards partner in marriage), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 313 read with 511 (attempt to cause miscarriage without woman's consent), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.


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