Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Somnath Bharti faces molestation charge

NEW DELHI: More than eight months after former law minister of Delhi, Somnath Bharti, "raided" Khirki Extension and allegedly misbehaved with African women, Delhi Police on Tuesday chargesheeted him under sections of molestation, outraging women's modesty and several other offences under the penal code.

Senior officers remained tightlipped on the issue but sources confirmed that the police report was submitted late on Tuesday evening. The court will now take cognizance of the chargesheet and may order Bharti's arrest as some of the charges are of crime against women, hence non-bailable.


Sources said 11 other people who accompanied Bharti that night have also been chargesheeted. The charges against them include: rioting (147/149), molestation (354), wrongful restraint (341), criminal intimidation (506), outraging a woman's modesty (509), promoting enmity between two groups or religions (153A), assault (323) and criminal trespass (427) of IPC, an officer said.


Seven African women living in the area have deposed against Bharti and his companions, accusing them of misbehaviour, sources added. The 100-page chargesheet includes the statements of the victims under 164 CrPC, medical reports, CCTV footage, video footage shot by TV channels and witness statements. The women have identified Bharti and the others as accused.


READ ALSO: Somnath Bharti, activists charged with rioting, molestation


The statements recorded before a magistrate are admissible as evidence in court and the women can be prosecuted for perjury if they retract. They had alleged that Somnath Bharti, MLA from Malviya Nagar in south Delhi, had barged into their house along with his supporters on the intervening night of January 15 and 16.


Other African nationals had alleged that the women were subjected to a cavity search during their medical examination at AIIMS and Bharti and his supporters had humiliated them by asking them to give urine samples in public.


Bharti and the other accused have denied these allegations and claimed they were taking action against sex and drug rings active in the area.

The court has throughout relied on video footage of the incident and Bharti is seen leading a group of people in the "raid" and arguing with the ACP of the area.


READ ALSO: AAP minister Somnath Bharti's top 6 controversies


Television footage shows the minister ordering police officers to conduct the raid, claiming he had received complaints of prostitution and drug trade in that area. The women have in their complaint said they were assaulted and molested by the group.


After the women approached the court with an application seeking registration of an FIR, it issued orders in this regard and has been monitoring the police action since then. The investigations have been carried out by the Mehrauli police. On September 10, the court had asked police to file their final status report "without fail".



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