Midnight raid: Court order framing of charges against former Minister Bharti
New Delhi: In a setback to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a Delhi court has ordered framing of charges against former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti for molestation and house trespassing, among others, in connection with alleged January 2014 midnight raid in Khirki Extension.
The Patiala House Court in Delhi on June 29 ordered that charges be framed against Bharti and 16 others in the case lodged after Malviya Nagar MLA Bharti barged into the homes of nine Ugandan nationals in Khirki Extension, along with some followers, on the intervening night of January 15 and 16.
The court ordered framing of charges against Bharti and others under sections 147/149 (rioting), 354 (molestation), 354C (voyeurism), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 143 (unlawful assembly), 509 (outraging a woman’s modesty), 153A (promoting enmity between two groups or religions), 323 (assault), 452 (house trespass), 427 (criminal trespass) and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) of the IPC.
Some of the charges are of crime against women, hence non-bailable.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal in the order said: “By no stretch of imagination it can be assumed that whatever offences are alleged to have been done by accused Somnath Bharti can be said to have been done in the discharge of his official duties. I am unable to understand what official duty prompted him to assault the helpless women of foreign origin in the midnight at around 1 a.m.”
Ordering framing of charges, the court said there was sufficient evidence that some of these victims were beaten and were caused simple hurt punishable under Section 323 of the IPC.
“Some of these victims have alleged that they were assaulted and their modesty was outraged, they were forced to urinate in front of that mob and therefore this mob has committed an offence under sections 354 and 354C of IPC.”
Bharti had alleged that he had received many complaints from residents of the area regarding a drugs and prostitution ring being run by the Ugandan nationals. But no drug recovery was made that night, and two FIRs were filed against Bharti. He also had an altercation with the police on the issue.
The chargesheet was filed was over 100-page document. The police had cited around 41 prosecution witnesses, including nine African women, to buttress the charges.
The police lodged an FIR January 19, 2014 against “unknown accused” on the court’s direction and booked them for various charges.
The two Ugandan women had sought registration of an FIR against unknown people for creating a ruckus during the raid between 1 a.m and 3 a.m in Khirki Extension here.