New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of Delhi's former law minister Somnath Bharti in a domestic violence case filed by his wife Lipika Mitra. The court said Bharti was "not only violent and outrageous at home, but also before the public at large".
The judge was referring to two cases pertaining to the January 2014 Khirki Extension midnight campaign that Bharti carried out against some women African nationals when he was Delhi's law minister.
Following the court decision, Bharti's estranged wife Lipika Mitra told reporters: "I am glad that the HC has come to the decision they have taken. I am sure they saw merit in my case."
Soon after the bail plea was dismissed, Delhi Police raided the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator's residence and office in Malviya Nagar, but he was missing, police told IANS.
"A team of Delhi Police officers raided his house and office in Malviya Nagar, but he was found absconding from both places," Joint Commissioner of Police Deependra Pathak told IANS.
"We need to arrest Bharti to interrogate him in a case of domestic violence and attempt to murder filed by his wife," he added.
On the dismissal of his anticipatory bail plea, Pathak said: "I hope he joins the investigation quickly.
"Delhi Police's stand has been vindicated. We always said custodial interrogation is essential."
The high court noted that the allegations against Bharti were "very serious".
Justice Suresh Kaith said Bharti was not only "violent and outrageous at home but also before the public at large".
Bharti was named in a first information report (FIR) registered in Dwarka in west Delhi on charges of domestic violence and attempt to murder, and attempt to cause miscarriage without the woman's consent.
The court in its judgment also took into note an e-mail sent by Mitra to Bharti on March 20, 2013, stating that Bharti's dog had bitten her six times when she was seven months pregnant. The court said police have produced the relevant medical papers.
Bharti's wife has been "tolerating cruelty with brutal assault", which was evident from the e-mail sent by her to him, the court held.
The high court on September 15 had granted protection to Bharti against arrest till September 17, and again extended the protection till Tuesday.
The court held that Bharti "misused" the protection granted by the court by visiting the police station at 2 a.m. and compelling the officers to record his presence.
Reacting to the court's decision, former Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Barkha Shukla, who had first summoned Bharti in the domestic violence case, said: "I request (Delhi Chief Minister) Arvind Kejriwal to advise Somnath-ji to cooperate with the investigation."
Bharatiya Janata Party's Delhi chief Satish Upadhyay said that "being a former law minister, Somnath Bharti should respect law".
"It's interesting that the AAP still has not suspended him," he said.
Ajay Maken, who heads the Delhi unit of the Congress, took a potshot at the DCW for "keeping quiet on Somnath Bharti's issue".
"They (DCW) need to be proactive," said Maken.
Police said they filed the FIR following a complaint on June 10 by Bharti's wife who said he abused her since their marriage in 2010.
She claimed that Bharti used to beat and torture her and once tried to kill her.