AAP MLA Somnath Bharti was arrested here early today, hours after he surrendered in connection with the attempt to murder and domestic violence case filed by his wife.
He was arrested around 4 AM, Dependra Pathak, Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest) said.
Bharti, who evaded arrest for nearly a week, had surrendered last night hours after the Supreme Court ordered him to give himself up in the domestic violence and attempt to murder case filed by his wife.
The MLA has been arrested under various sections of the IPC including 307 (attempt to murder), 420 (cheating and dishonesty), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 417 (punishment for cheating), 313 (causing miscarriage without woman’s consent), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt), 498a (husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation, said Pathak.
The FIR against the former Delhi Law Minister was registered at Dwarka North police station following a complaint by his wife Lipika Mitra.
“There was a warrant and I was availing legal remedies till the Honourable Supreme Court directed me to surrender. In compliance with the direction…I am here to surrender,” Bharti had said.
A lawyer for Bharti had said last night that the legislator’s father was unwell and that is why he could not surrender last evening as directed by the apex court. Bharti was “avoiding” and not “evading” police, he had said.
AAP had asked its Malviya Nagar MLA to surrender “immediately” to avoid “further embarrassment” to the party and himself.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had termed his party colleague as an “embarrassment”.
Bharti had failed to get relief from the Supreme Court as it rejected his plea that he be given time till tomorrow to surrender.
“We want him to surrender before appropriate jurisdiction of the police. We don’t intend to pass any further order,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy had said.
After Bharti presented himself before the police, he was taken to Dwarka South police station as there was no provision for custody at Dwarka North police station.
At Dwarka South police station, Bharti is to confront the investigating officer of the case and face a series of question which may take several hours, after which he is likely to be arrested, said a senior police officer.
Meanwhile, Bharti’s lawyer, Deepak Khosla, said that a bail application shall be moved before a sessions court tomorrow.
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”.
Lipika had filed a complaint of domestic violence with the 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.
Soon after the Supreme Court directive to Bharti, AAP reiterated its position asking him to surrender “immediately” to avoid “further embarrassment” to the party and himself.
“Party had requested him earlier and requesting him again (to surrender and cooperate). Party has great faith in judiciary and rule of law and believes that justice will be done,” senior AAP leader Ashutosh tweeted.
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal went a step ahead and welcomed the apex court’s decision, saying it will end his “hide and seek” with the legal process.
Meanwhile, Bharti’s lawyer Deepak Khosla made a veiled attack on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “not supporting” the embattled AAP MLA, saying he should have taken a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who “stands” by his “loyalists” through “thick and thin”.
In a letter to Kejriwal, Bharti’s counsel Khosla demanded that the case be taken from Delhi Police and handed over to other agency for a “fair investigation”.
He claimed the case has been “blown out of proportion” and urged the Chief Minister to issue directions to Delhi Police to refrain from using terms such as “absconder” or “professional criminal” to describe the former Law Minister.
He also sought a meeting with the Chief Minister to “advance” the objectives of a lawful and fair investigation while protecting the interests of Bharti.
“…if there is one big distinction between Narendra Modi’s style of functioning and yours – whether good or bad – is that he stands by his loyalists through thick and thin. Cases in point are Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani…. Whereas you (prematurely) shed your support for Somnath Bharti like a hot potato,” the lawyer said.