Somnath Bharti fails to appear before women's panel

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 24, 2014 15:59 hrs

New Delhi: High drama was witnessed on Friday at the Delhi Commission of Women as controversial Law Minister Somnath Bharti today failed to appear before it in the case relating to the midnight raid against an alleged drug and prostitution ring and instead attended a kite flying festival.

Bharti's lawyers and the Commission Chief Barkha Singh, a former Congress MLA, had a public confrontation after she refused to allow them to present the minister's response.

In a statement, Aam Aadmi Party said it "strongly disapproved of the politicisation of the office of Delhi Commission for Women by its chairperson".

Claiming that a lawyer had misbehaved with her, Singh said she has written to the Lt Governor recommending filing of an FIR against Bharti for allegedly misbehaving with a number of African women.

DCW had summoned Bharti following allegations that the Delhi minister led a group of AAP workers who misbehaved with a number of African women on the pretext of a raid on an alleged drug and prostitution ring in South Delhi last week.

The Law Minister was asked to depose before the commission this afternoon to explain the charges against him but he sent his lawyers, who said he was absent due to "some urgencies".

"There is no provision by which we can allow representatives or lawyers. Bharti's lawyer who had come here today mishaved with us. The lawyer misbehaved with me," Singh said. The Commission had called two Ugandan women involved in the case to the Commission.

One of Bharti's lawyers Rishikesh Kumar said Singh did not allow them to put across his point on the issue.

"I have been asked by Somnath Bharti to represent him in today's proceeding. I came here at 3 PM and as I entered inside I saw many camerapersons were already present there. So I said that it's already 3 o'clock and we have been sent by Bharti to represent him," he said

"We were told lawyers cannot represent. I said I have got the instructions. I have got the authorisation and can you please let me speak? Then she said no, you are a lawyer. But I kept saying that we have a humble submission. I told her that because of some urgencies Bharti might not be able to attend today's hearing," Kumar said.

The AAP had yesterday decided to back Bharti and to await the findings of a judicial inquiry before any action can be taken against him. MORE

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