Delhi drama ends as Somnath surrenders

Delhi drama ends as Somnath surrenders

Delhi drama ends as Somnath surrenders

Controversial AAP legislator Somnath Bharti was arrested on Monday soon after he surrendered in Dwarka North police station around 10 pm, hours after the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea in a domestic violence and attempt to murder case filed by his estranged wife Lipika.

Flashing a copy of the Constitution, Somnath said that till now, he was not running away from law. “There was a warrant and I was only availing all my legal remedies,” said Bharti, as he reached the police station in a white car along with his lawyers to end a long cat-and-mouse game with police.

“Today, the Supreme Court directed me to surrender. In compliance with (that) direction, I am here to surrender,” he said.

His lawyer alleged that the Delhi Police had harassed Somnath and the truth will come out in the coming two-three days.

Dressed in a rust polo T-shirt and a pair of trousers, Somnath, who was avoiding arrest for a week, waited patiently in his car for about 10 minutes before alighting from the vehicle that was surrounded by mediapersons. Minutes after he entered the station, police drove him to the Dwarka South police station, which is equipped with a lock-up unlike the Dwarka North station.  

Police sources said they wanted to question Somnath before deciding whether to seek his custody from court. Somnath is likely to undergo a medical examination before being presented in court on Tuesday evening.

“If needed, we will seek his police remand from the trial court,” said a police official, confirming that their teams had failed to trace him over the past few days despite a court issuing non-bailable warrants against him.

There was high drama through the day, with the apex court asking Somnath, a former law minister in Arvind Kejriwal cabinet, not to run away from the process of law and the legislator’s lawyers continuously deferring the designated time for his surrender from 6 pm to 10 pm.

The Supreme Court bluntly rejected Bharti’s anticipatory bail saying: “We cannot be seen protecting an absconder.”

A bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy asked Bharti to behave like a “responsible citizen” and not run away from the process of law.

“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 even there. What should be your conduct as a responsible citizen now?,” the bench told senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Bharti.

The apex court is likely to hear the matter next on Thursday.

Soon after the apex court decision to reject Somnath’s anticipatory bail, AAP leaders started issuing statements urging Somnath to join police investigation as soon as possible.

“Bharti should appear before police to avoid further embarrassment to the party as well as his family,” said AAP leader Sanjay Singh.

Political rivals mounted pressure on Kejriwal by slamming him for shielding a “tainted” colleague. 

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken hit out at Kejriwal for not expelling him from the party. “What are tainted AAP legislators blackmailing Kejriwal with? What is forcing the chief minister to go soft on them?” said Maken.

BJP leader Shazia Ilmi, a former AAP colleague of Kejriwal,said: “Will the AAP now question the Supreme Court for directing Bharti to surrender before police?”

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