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Judicial probe in the 'midnight raid' likely to indict Somnath Bharti

Friday, 21 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

A judicial probe into Somnath Bharti's 'midnight raid' last month in a Delhi neighbourhood involving Ugandan nationals is expected to indict the former Delhi law minister over technical grounds, according to investigators.

Bharti sparked a controversy following his face-off with police officials and Ugandan nationals in south Delhi's Khirki Extension neighbourhood on the intervening night of January 15 and 16. Bharti and Aam Aadmi Party supporters went to Khirki Extension after locals repeatedly complained about a drug and prostitution racket from a rented house there. Bharti claimed that the police did not act on the locals' complaints which is why he personally went to the area with a police PCR team. When they reached the place, the police refused to 'raid' the alleged house or make any arrests. But on Bharti's insistence, the police took a few Ugandan women to a hospital for tests and released them later.

Bharti's vigilantism and the racial overtone prompted Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to institute a judicial committee headed by retired Justice BL Garg to probe the case. The committee is expected to file its report to the LG this week. The police too is conducting a parallel probe in the case.

Investigators familiar with the judicial probe told dna that it has found prima facie evidence against Bharti for his role in the so-called 'raid'. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak on the subject, said that Bharti is likely to be booked under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)and under Narcotics Act and Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act.

CrPC sections 46(4) and 160 prohibits the police from arresting a woman between dusk and dawn as well as calling a woman to a police station to record her statement. Bharti, however, took a PCR van to raid the house of the Ugandan women. He kept the women captive in a car when the police refused to arrest them and forced the police to carry their medical exam, according to the police.

Besides, section 13 and sub-section (4) of the Immoral Trafficking Act permits an officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or higher to conduct a raid involving women and prostitution. But no such high-ranking officer accompanied Bharti.

"Bharti has said that he had sent several reminders to the local police station. For a raid of such a nature, the area ACP or the and deputy commissioner of police should have been informed either by Bharti since he was the MLA," said the source.

Likewise, section 50 of the Narcotics Act states that an officer of ACP rank or higher must be present for a raid involving drugs.

While Justice Garg's report pins Bharati down on technical grounds, the police is expected to indict Bharti on the basis of the statement of two Ugandan women, who have reportedly stated and identified Bharati as leading a mob against them, keeping them captive for hours and forcing them to undergo medical tests.

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