AAP MLA Somnath Bharti sentenced to 2 years in jail by Delhi court in assault case; Party terms it ‘injustice’

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NEW DELHI, Jan 23 (PTI): AAP MLA and former Delhi minister Somnath Bharti was on Saturday sentenced to two years in jail by a court here in a 2016 case of assaulting the security staff at AIIMS and causing damage to hospital property.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi backed its MLA from Malviya Nagar, claiming that “injustice” has been meted out to him and expressed the hope that he will get justice at the appellate level.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader.

“The court is of the considered view that the prosecution has duly proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt against accused Somnath Bharti,” the magistrate said.

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

According to the prosecution, on September 9, 2016, Bharti, along with nearly 300 others, brought down the fence of a boundary wall at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here with a JCB operator.

The case was lodged on the basis of a complaint from R S Rawat, chief security officer, AIIMS.

The court convicted Bharti for various offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 147 (rioting).

It also held the AAP MLA guilty under section 3 (mischief causing damage to public property) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

The offences carry a maximum punishment of five years in jail.

The court, however, 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 to falsely implicate him in the case.

In its statement, the AAP said, “We respect the judiciary and have full faith in the judiciary. However, we feel injustice has happened to Mr Somnath Bharti in this case.” The party said Bharti is filing an appeal.

“We are confident that justice will be done to him at the appellate level,” it said.

“Somnath is a very popular leader and is loved by everyone in his constituency. He works 24 hours for his people. People are quite sad in his constituency as the news of his conviction is spreading,” the AAP said.

When contacted, Bharti said he does not want to comment after his party’s statement. The AAP leader is not new to controversies. In 2014, as the law minister in the then Kejriwal government, he led a late-night vigilante raid against some African women, accusing them of being drug runners. In 2015, he was arrested in connection with a domestic violence case lodged by his wife. He was later cleared of the charge.

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