A judicial probe has found former Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti guilty of leading a midnight raid at South Delhi’s Khirki Extension on January 15-16 and vindicated the Delhi Police’s refusal to follow the AAP leader’s instructions.
Speaking to The Indian Express, retired Additional District and Sessions Judge B L Garg said he had examined over 15 witnesses including Bharti, former Women and Child Development Minister Rakhi Birla, police personnel and Ugandan women who had pressed charges of assault and criminal intimidation against those involved in the raid.
Bharti had allegedly led the midnight raid after the Delhi Police refused to comply with his instructions. “The police were justified in not conducting the raid. There were no grounds or reliable evidence to conduct the raid.
The fact that nothing adverse was found in the tests conducted on the residents also supports their stand,” Justice Garg said. The judge, who began his inquiry on January 21, said he had submitted his report to the Lieutenant Governor’s office over a week back.
Following the outrage against the raid, Bharti had clarified that he had carried out the raid after being tipped off by residents about a drug racket in the area. Section 42 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act gives powers to carry out raids without warrants.
However, Justice Garg mentioned that the power is not absolute and needs to be exercised in compliance with guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court. “The raid was not in compliance with these guidelines. Based on the evidence placed before me, I gave a positive finding that the allegations made out against Bharti and others were prima facie correct,” he said. But the findings and recommendations are “non-binding” in nature, the former judge clarified.
Several women, mostly from Uganda, had claimed that they had been manhandled by unknown assailants who also forced them to undergo medical tests. Four separate complaints were lodged with the Malviya Nagar police station following which a court on January 18 directed the station to register an FIR against unknown persons and conduct a detailed investigation into the matter.
A day later, an FIR was registered. The complainants have charged members of the raid party on counts of trespass, mischief, assault with intent to outrage modesty, rioting and criminal intimidation. On February 14, the Delhi Police sought additional time until March 26 to submit a complete report.