Sting ops land Delhi minister in a spot

Arvind Kejriwal says Somnath is innocent, despite CBI judgment

Sting ops land Delhi minister  in a spot

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said Law Minister Somnath Bharti was not in the wrong, despite a judge’s order holding the latter guilty of “unethical” practice while representing an alleged fraudster in a CBI court.

The chief minister virtually challenged the wisdom of CBI Special Judge Poonam A Bamba and the Delhi High Court’s Justice Sunita Gupta, who disagreed with Bharti’s claim that he contacted a CBI witness for “strengthening evidence” for the case.

Backing his Cabinet colleague, he said: “We respect the court, but in this matter, the court is wrong. The judge called the sting operation tampering of evidence.”

The legal fraternity slammed the chief minister and Bharti for questioning the trial court’s decision and calling it “erroneous”. It was of the opinion that the law minister violated the Bar Council of India rules for advocates’ conduct by contacting a witness outside the court.

Former president of the Delhi Bar Association Rajeev Khosla reacted sharply to Bharti’s conduct. “As a defence lawyer, he (Bharti) was not supposed to contact either the witness or the complainant,” he said. A Delhi court judge, who did not want to be named, questioned Bharti’s legal knowledge. “How can he call the trial court’s critical observations erroneous when he never challenged them in a higher court?” he said.

Bharti, in a hurriedly convened press conference at the Delhi Secretariat on a gazetted holiday, told reporters that he was only conducting a sting while defending a client and did not do anything unethical. “It was erroneous on the part of the judge to call it tampering of evidence,” Bharti said.

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