New Delhi: In a big setback to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected his anticipatory bail plea and asked him to surrender before the court today itself.
"We want him to surrender before appropriate jurisdiction of the police by this evening. We don't intend to pass any further order," a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said while posting the matter for hearing on Thursday.
The bench rejected the plea of his counsel and senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam that Bharti, who is absconding from law, be given time till tomorrow to surrender.
"No, we will not give time. If you want your matter to come on Thursday, you have to surrender today itself," the bench said, while rejecting a further request that he be given time till 7 pm to surrender.
Subramaniam submitted that the whole incident was an outcome of the matrimonial dispute in which, not only the couple, but their two children were also sufferers. The court should keep this in mind while hearing Bharti's appeal against the rejection of his anticipatory bail by the trial court and the Delhi High Court, he contended.
However, the bench said it was not concerned with the issue at this stage and asked how should Bharti conduct himself as a responsible citizen after dismissal of his plea before trial court and the High Court.
"Not to say you have lost before two courts (trial court and High Court). You went for anticipatory bail before the trial court, you did not succeed. You went for anticipatory bail before the High Court, you did not succeed. What is your duty as a responsible citizen," the bench asked.
"First you surrender, then we will see whether the matter should be referred to mediation centre. We want family dispute to be sorted out but we can't be saying that we will be protecting an absconder.
"We will find out from his wife whether she is ready to sit for mediation. We want families to live together. We don't want disruption in family life," the bench said, while making it clear it will not go into the merits of the matter unless Bharti surrenders.
Bharti had on September 23 moved the apex court seeking protection from arrest in the case and a direction to restrain Delhi Police from arresting him till his plea challenging the High Court order is decided.
The High Court had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea, saying the allegations against him were backed by "documentary proof".
Terming the allegations against former Delhi Law Minister Bharti by his wife, Lipika Mitra, as "very serious", Justice Suresh Kait of the high court had said she has been tolerating his "cruelty" and "brutal assault".
Dismissing his plea for protection from arrest, the high court had said that being an MLA, he should have shown more "generosity and responsibility towards his wife and children".
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 wife), 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.
With PTI inputs