March 2, 2014 12:29:09 am
A judicial probe into the midnight raid at South Delhi’s Khirki Extension on January 15-16 has found former Law Minister Somnath Bharti guilty of leading the raid and has vindicated the stand taken by the Delhi Police in not following Bharti’s instructions for conducting the raid.
Retired Additional District and Sessions Judge B L Garg mentioned that he had examined over 15 witnesses in the case 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 Bharti and AAP volunteers involved in the raid.
Bharti had allegedly led the midnight raid after the Delhi Police refused to comply with his instructions and conduct the raid.
“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,” Garg said.
The judge had begun his inquiry into the matter on January 21 and mentioned that he had submitted his report to the Lieutenant-Governor’s office over a week ago.
The outrage provoked by the incident had forced Bharti to clarify that he had carried out the raid after receiving tip-offs from Khirki Extension residents that a drugs-and-prostitution racket was operating in the locality.
The power to carry out raids without warrants is specified under Section 42 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. However, Judge Garg mentioned that the power is not absolute and needs to be exercised in compliance with guidelines laid down by the constitution bench of the Supreme Court.
“The midnight raid was carried out in non-compliance with these guidelines and, 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,” Garg said.
His findings and recommendations are, however, “non-binding” in nature, he said. Following the incident, several women, mostly Ugandan nationals, had claimed that they had been manhandled by unknown assailants who also forced them to undergo medical tests.
Four separate complaints in the case were lodged at the Malviya Nagar police station. A court on January 18 directed the Malviya Nagar police to register an FIR against unknown persons and conduct a detailed investigation in the matter.
On January 19, an FIR was registered in the case. The complainants had alleged house trespass, mischief, assault with intent to outrage modesty, rioting and criminal intimidation against those who took part in the raid.
On February 14, the Delhi Police sought more time — until March 26 — to submit the final report in the incident.
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