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HC suspends 2-yr jail term of Somnath Bharti in assault case

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: March 24, 2021 22:52 IST
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In a relief for Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti, the Delhi high court on Wednesday stayed his conviction in a case of assault on All India Institute of Medical Sciences security staff and suspended the two-year jail term.

 

IMAGE: Somnath Bharti in February 2020. Photograph: Rahul Singh/ANI Photo

Justice Suresh Kait also sought the response of the Delhi government on Bharti's plea challenging his conviction and the sentence awarded to him by a trial court.

The high court listed the matter for further hearing on May 20.

Bharti was taken into custody and sent to prison on Tuesday after the pronouncement of the verdict by the trial court in New Delhi.

Bharti, in his plea filed before the high court on Wednesday, has sought setting aside of the trial court verdict and suspension of sentence during the pendency of the revision petition.

He has also sought a stay on his conviction in the case.

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) in New Delhi with a JCB operator.

A magistrate had in January sentenced him to two years in prison.

The order 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 that it was a case of no evidence. He said the verdict of the trial court was based upon a 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 a 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 a good reputation in society and that 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 the Indian Penal Code 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 the Indian Penal Code.

According to Bharti, AIIMS had no authorisation to cover the 'nallah' (drain) between Gautam Nagar and Ring Road as it was public property and had to be opened for general use.

During the course of the 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 eyewitnesses to the incident were consistent to the effect that a gathering of around 200-300 people along with Bharti was 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 eyewitnesses 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 was 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 the 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 to falsely implicate him in the case. 

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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