Almost four hours after the Supreme Court’s deadline to surrender, AAP MLA Somnath Bharti appeared before Delhi Police at the Dwarka police station. Saying it cannot protect an “absconder”, the SC rejected his anticipatory bail and ordered him to immediately surrender before police in connection with a case of domestic violence and attempt to murder filed by his wife.
Waving a copy of the Constitution, Bharti said he had not violated any laws. “The Constitution gives all citizens the right to appeal. After the Supreme Court ordered me to surrender, I complied.” Earlier in the day, Bharti had tweeted, “The truth shall prevail and this too shall pass.”
The bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy refused to grant anticipatory bail to Bharti, and asked him to behave like a “responsible citizen” and not run away from the law.
“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 even there. What should be your conduct as a responsible citizen now? We cannot be seen protecting an absconder,” the bench told Bharti’s counsel Gopal Subramanium.
Calling it a “matrimonial dispute”, Subramanium urged the bench to show some leniency since the interest of the couple’s children was also involved in the matter. “You first surrender and then we will see what is to be done,” the bench responded.
Subramanium pressed for mediation with his wife, to which the bench said the court is open to explore this option if Bharti’s wife was also willing but added that the AAP MLA had to stop being an absconder.
“First you surrender and then we will take up the matter on Thursday to see whether the matter should be referred to a mediation centre. We will certainly look into it if parties are willing to settle the matter in the interest of their children. We also want the family dispute to be sorted out but we can’t be saying that we will be protecting an absconder,” it said.
The court, however, made it clear that it cannot compel Bharti’s wife, Lipika Mitra, to agree for mediation.
The bench also turned down Subramanium’s plea to give Bharti time till Tuesday to surrender and for the mediation proceedings can kick off immediately. “No, we will not give time. If you want your matter to come on Thursday, you have to surrender today itself. We want him to surrender before appropriate jurisdiction of the police by this evening,” it said.
The court also refused to go into the merits of the case and stopped Subramanium from arguing on the allegations contained in the FIR.
With no alternative left, Subramanium conceded that Bharti would surrender before police, and said he would press for the matter to be referred to the mediation Thursday.
Bharti had on September 23 moved the SC, seeking protection from arrest in the case and a direction to restrain police from arresting him till his plea challenging the high court order is decided.
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