SC asks Somnath Bharti's wife if she wants to resolve issues

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Lipika Mitra, the estranged wife of former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti whether she was inclined to join mediation efforts as offered by her husband to resolve all issues between them.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy issued notice, asking Lipika to respond by Monday as it fixed the next hearing for 10.30 a.m on October 5.

Issuing notice to Lipika Mitra, the court declined, for now, the plea by Somnath Bharti for interim bail. However, the court indicated that it may consider the plea for interim bail on Monday.

"We always keep our mind open. Not only mind, but even the heart," Chief Justice Dattu said as senior counsel Gopal Subramanium appearing for Bharti told the court to keep their mind "open to consider the plea at a later stage on Monday".

"We have other powers. Under Article 142, we can grant bail here itself," Chief Justice Dattu told Subramanium as he recounted the sequence of events from September 28 when the court asked Aam Aadmi Party legislator Somnath Bharti to first surrender as police were seeking his custody.

Subramanium wondered if such a course on part of police was warranted when the apex court was seized of the matter and the same was listed for hearing today (Thursday). He said that contrary to the apex court guidelines, Bharti was not allowed to access his lawyer and was shifted from one police station to another after he surrendered.

In the course of the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Delhi Police opposed the interim bail plea to Bharti, saying that the original plea for anticipatory bail had become infructuous after Bharti's surrender and remand in police custody.

"This is a complete derogation of the authority of this court (apex court) for trial court to grant his police custody" and "it surprises me", Subramanium told the court, pointing out that the former Delhi law minister was cooperating with the police investigation.

Apparently piqued by Rohatgi opposing his plea, Subramanium wondered over the Attorney General's appearance in a matter relating to an anticipatory bail.

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