Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Assault Case: AAP MLA Somnath Bharti Moves Delhi HC Challenging Two-Year Jail Term

AAP MLA Somnath Bharti was sent to jail on Tuesday after a Delhi trial court convicted him for assaulting an AIIMS staffer in 2016

AAP MLA Somnath Bharti Tribhuvan Tiwari/Outlook

AAP MLA Somnath Bharti, who has been imprisoned for assaulting an AIIMS staffer, approached the Delhi High Court on Wednesday challenging his conviction and two-year sentence.

According to the prosecution, the AAP MLA, along with 300 others brought down the fence of a boundary wall at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) with a JCB in Delhi on September 9, 2016.

A Delhi trial court on Tuesday convicted Bharti for the abovementioned offences under sections 147 (rioting) read with 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC and under section 3 (mischief causing damage to public property) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, post which Bharti was taken into custody and sent to prison.

In his plea before the high court, he has sought setting aside of the trial court's verdict and suspension of sentence during the pendency of the revision petition. He has also sought a stay on his conviction in the case.

A magistrate had in January sentenced him to two years in prison. It was challenged before the special judge which also upheld his punishment on Tuesday.

In the petition before the high court, Bharti claimed that the special judge has erroneously convicted and sentenced him and said it was a case of no evidence and the verdict of the trial court was based upon totally false and fabricated story of the prosecution.

“The case of the prosecution is full of improvements, embellishments, contradictions and is unworthy of reliance and will fall like a pack of cards just by the stroke of the sheer hand of providence by this court,” the plea said, adding that Bharti’s conviction has resulted in travesty of justice.

It added that the magisterial court as well as the sessions court failed to appreciate that he is a sitting and third time MLA having good reputation in the society and he devotes all his time for the service of the society.

“The petitioner is an officer of this court and this prosecution is politically motivated to falsely implicate him,” it said.

The special judge had partly dismissed Bharti's appeal and convicted him for the offences under sections 147 (rioting) read with 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC and under section 3 (mischief causing damage to public property) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

It, however, had set aside his conviction under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) read with section 149 of IPC.

According to Bharti, AIIMS had no authorisation to cover the 'nallah' (drain) between Gautam Nagar and Ring Road as it was a public property and had to be opened for general use. During the course of investigation, it came on record that the drain was given on lease to the AIIMS for covering and maintenance.

The sessions court had said in its order that the evidence of eye witnesses to the incident was consistent to the effect that a gathering of around 200-300 people along with Bharti were present near the boundary wall of AIIMS and they were trying to break the wall and the fence by the use of JCB machine.

It had added that when some of the eye witnesses resisted the bringing down of the fence, they were abused and injured due to stone pelting by the mob.

The special judge, however, had said that the magistrate court had committed "grave illegality" in convicting the AAP leader for the offence of voluntarily causing hurt as the evidence of the injured persons were not reliable and trustworthy.

It had said no explanation has been given by the prosecution as to why the injured persons were not medically examined on the date of the offence and on what basis, opinion was sought, when no injuries were observed by the doctor or reported by injured.

"The opinion regarding injuries has been taken by the IO (investigating officer) on May 5, 2018, i.e. almost after two years of the incident," it had said.

It had further said the manner in which the persons had suffered injuries was not corroborative and was contradictory to each other which made their testimony doubtful and unreliable.

The prosecutor had told the trial court that there was no illegality or infirmity in the judgment for conviction and sentencing order of the magistrate court and the judgment has been delivered based upon the reliable evidence which has come on record.

In January, Bharti was granted bail to enable him to file an appeal before the high court against his conviction in the case and jail term.

The magistrate court had acquitted Bharti's associates and co-accused -- Jagat Saini, Dileep Jha, Sandeep Sonu and Rakesh Pandey -- citing a lack of evidence against them.

The case was lodged on the basis of a complaint from R S Rawat, Chief Security Officer, AIIMS.

Bharti had told the court that police officials and other witnesses had deposed against him in order to falsely implicate him in the case.

(With PTI inputs)