Surrender now, says SC to absconding Somnath Bharti

SansadTV Bureau

Somnath-Bharti-wife-DCWAAP MLA and former Delhi Law Minister who is on the run, has suffered a big setback. The Supreme Court rejected his bail application and directed him to surrender before the police in a domestic violence and attempt to murder case filed by his wife Lipika Mitra.

“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 of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said. The judges then posted the the matter for further hearing on Thursday.

Bharti’s lawyer Gopal Subramaniam pleaded to the bench that Bharti be given a day’s time to surrender but the bench outrightly rejected the plea.

“No, we will not give time. If you want your matter to come on Thursday, you have to surrender today itself,” the bench said. The bench also rejected the request that Bharti be given time until 7 pm to surrender.

Subramaniam, behalf of Bharti, argued in court that the case in its core was an outcome of a matrimonial dispute in which Bharti’s two children also have to bear the brunt and suffer. Subramaniam pleaded that the court should keep this in mind while hearing Bharti’s appeal against the rejection of anticipatory bail by the trial court and the Delhi High Court.

In response the bench was furious and said that Bharti should first act like a responsible citizen.

“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…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,” said the court.

“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.

On September 23, Bharti had moved the apex court seeking protection from arrest in the case. Before that, the High Court had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea, saying the allegations against him were backed by “documentary proof”.

Justice Suresh Kait of the Delhi High Court called the allegations against Bharti as “very serious”. He also added that Bharti’s wife had been tolerating his “cruelty” and “brutal assault” for a long time.

The High Court had observed that Bharti, being an MLA, should have shown more “generosity and responsibility towards his wife and children”.

On June 10, Lipika had filed a complaint of domestic violence with Delhi Commission for Women. She had alleged that her husband was abusing her since their marriage in 2010. Subsequently Lipika also filed a police complaint and the Delhi Police registered an FIR against Bharti under several sections of the IPC. The sections include 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).