New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) A court has ordered framing of molestation charges against former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti in connection with the 2014 midnight raid at Khirki Extension here, questioning what official duty prompted the AAP leader to assault helpless African women. Also Read - Karnataka Public Service Commission Postpones FDA Exam Following Question-paper Leak | Details Here

The order was passed by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal yesterday who said there was “a sufficient prima facie case against all the accused persons to proceed by framing of charges against them”. Also Read - Budget 2021: Tax Slabs May Remain Unchanged But Salaried Taxpayers Likely to Get Some Relief This Year

The court ordered that charges be framed against Bharti and 16 others for offences of molestation, assault, threat, promoting enmity, rioting and others under the IPC. Also Read - Top 5 Hair Colour Myths You Should Stop Believing Right Now

It also rejected Bharti’s argument that he was a minister at the time of the incident and the state would, therefore, require a sanction of the government to prosecute him under Section 197 of the CrPC.

“This does not seem to be a valid argument as by no stretch of imagination it can be assumed that whatever offences are alleged to have been done by accused Somnath Bharti can be said to have been done in the discharge of his official duties. I am unable to understand what official duty prompted him to assault the helpless women of foreign origin in the midnight,” the judge said.

It ordered framing of charges against Bharti and others under sections 147/149 (rioting), 354 (molestation), 354C (voyeurism), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 143 (unlawful assembly), 509 (outraging a woman’s modesty), 153A (promoting enmity between two groups or religions), 323 (assault), 452 (house trespass), 427 (criminal trespass) and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) of the IPC.

An FIR was lodged by police in the case on the court’s direction after an Ugandan woman filed a plea on January 18, 2014. She had sought lodging of criminal case against unknown persons in the incident.

According to the charge sheet, on the intervening night of January 15-16, 2014, Bharti and 16 others reached Khirki Extension, Malviya Nagar and allegedly assaulted Ugandan women living in rented accommodation there.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.