Asking “what official duty” prompted AAP leader Somnath Bharti to allegedly assault “helpless women of foreign origin”, a Delhi court Friday framed charges of assault, molestation and promoting enmity between two groups against him and others in connection with midnight raids conducted in Malviya Nagar’s Khirki Extension in January 2014.
The incident took place on the intervening night of January 15-16. Nine women from African nations, in their statements to the magistrate, alleged that a mob led by Bharti came into their residence and assaulted and abused them, making derogatory remarks. Some alleged they were called prostitutes; were asked whether they hid drugs; and had their travel tickets torn.
According to court records, Bharti’s defence was that there was a drug and prostitution racket in the area into which “innocent girls were forced”. He said he had called police himself, and raids took place in their presence, and that there was no intent to commit any offence.
But police, in their chargesheet, said they tried to pacify Bharti, but he insisted on searching the areas. “He misbehaved with police and foreigners… He and his supporters entered and raided houses of foreigner ladies at odd hours illegally without informing police,” alleged police, as per court records.
In their supplementary chargesheet, police submitted that as per the CFSL report, there was no presence of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in urine samples of the African nationals — contrary to allegations raised by Bharti and others. The court said it cannot be the case that the victims’ statements were fabricated by police as it was recorded in the presence of a magistrate.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Samar Vishal said, “Simply because whatever was done by these accused persons was alleged to have been done in presence of police, it cannot be said that the victims are lying.”
During the course of arguments, Bharti submitted to the court that since he was a minister at that point of time, sanction from the government was required to prosecute him.
ACMM Vishal said, “This does not seem to be a valid argument. By no stretch of imagination it can be assumed that whatever offences are alleged to have been done by Bharti can be said to be in discharge of his official duties. I am unable to understand what official duty prompted him to assault helpless women of foreign origin.”