Domestic violence case: AAP MLA Somnath Bharti surrenders before police

Controversial AAP MLA Somnath Bharti, who has been evading arrest for nearly a week, surrendered before police tonight hours after the Supreme Court ordered him to give up by evening in the domestic violence and attempt to murder case filed by his wife

New Delhi: The "hide and seek" game between Delhi's ex-law minister Somnath Bharti and police ended on Monday evening when he surrendered to police in a domestic violence case filed by his wife Lipika Mitra.

The fugitive Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator from Malviya Nagar constituency in south Delhi reached at Dwarka North Police station, hours after the Supreme Court refused his anticipatory bail plea and directed him to surrender.

A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitabha Roy said earlier that the court will hear his anticipatory bail plea after he surrenders by 6-6.30 p.m. on Monday.

Somnath surrenders to Delhi policeAAP MLA Somnath Bharti shows a book of Constitution of India as he arrives to surrender at the Dwarka North Police Station in New Delhi on Monday. Pic/PTI

Bharti had been named in an FIR filed at Dwarka North police station in west Delhi following a June 10 complaint by his wife who said he had been abusing her since their marriage in 2010.

She claimed that Bharti used to beat and torture her and once tried to kill her.

Bharti has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to attempt to murder, cruelty towards wife, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon, criminal breach of trust, attempt to cause miscarriage without woman's consent, cheating and criminal intimidation.

Bharti, who was accompanied by his lawyers, reached the Dwarka North police station in his car at around 10.10 pm and made himself available to the police.

Wearing a red tee, Bharti flashed the Constitution of India (bare act) which he was carrying as a huge posse of media personnel mobbed his car. The FIR against the former Delhi Law Minister was registered at Dwarka North police station following a complaint by hsi wife Dipika 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 said, adding, "I was not running away from law. I was only availing the legal remedies guaranteed by the Constitution of India."

Bharti had a tough time to get out of his car and no police personnel offered any assistance.

"This too shall pass and truth shall prevail," Bharti tweeted from an undisclosed location around an hour before he gave up.

A lawyer from Bharti said the legislator's father was unwell and that is why he could not surrender by evening as directed by the apex court. Bharti was "avoiding" and not "evading" police, he added.

Soon after Bharti failed to get relief from the Supreme Court, AAP cornered its Malviya Nagar MLA asking him to surrender "immediately" to avoid "further embarassment" to the party and himself. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also called his party colleague as an "embarassment".

Bharti 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 by this evening. We don't intend to pass any further order," a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy said while posting the matter for hearing on Thursday.

The bench also rejected a further request by his counsel that he be given time till 7 pm to surrender.

"No, we will not give time. If you want your matter to come on Thursday, you have to surrender today itself," the bench said. 

Bharti's counsel and senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam submitted that the whole incident was an outcome of the matrimonial dispute in which, not only the couple, but their two children were also sufferers.

The court should keep this in mind while hearing Bharti's appeal against the rejection of his anticipatory bail by the trial court and the Delhi High Court, he contended. 

However, the bench said it was not concerned with the issue at this stage and asked how should Bharti have conducted himself as a responsible citizen after dismissal of his plea for anticipatory bail by the trial court and the Delhi High Court.

"Not to say you have lost before two courts (trial court and High Court). 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. What is your duty as a responsible citizen," the bench asked.

"First you surrender, then we will see whether the matter should be referred to mediation centre. We want family dispute to be sorted out but we can't be saying that we will be protecting an absconder.

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