The Delhi High Court today set aside an NHRC order holding Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Somnath Bharti guilty of “racial prejudice and unlawful acts” against 12 African women during his controversial midnight raid in Khirki Extension in South Delhi.
A vacation bench of justices S Muralidhar and Manmohan Singh, while setting aside the September 29 ruling of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), also directed it to hear the matter afresh and pass a detailed order by taking into account the evidence lead by Bharti in his defence.
The AAP leader has also been asked to appear before the Commission on the next date of hearing in January.
The high court passed the order while disposing of Bharti’s appeal against its single judge’s decision to dismiss his petition against the NHRC’s September 29 ruling.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and central government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh appeared for the Union of India in the matter.
Bharti in his appeal, filed through advocate Deepak Khosla, had contended that the single judge had dismissed his plea as “premature” without “allowing fair opportunity to explain the facts of the situation before the NHRC and the legal grounds on which the writ petition was eminently maintainable”.
In his writ petition against the NHRC order, Bharti had sought that the Commission’s ruling be declared a “nullity” as it was passed without giving him an opportunity to lead evidence in his defence.
He had also sought a compensation of Rs 100 crore from the Centre, NHRC and the city government.
Bharti’s petition had also said that NHRC had prematurely directed the Delhi government to pay Rs 25,000 compensation each to the 12 women, who had allegedly suffered racial abuse, illegal detention, intimidation, abuse, assault and indignity by the AAP leader.
It had also questioned whether NHRC had the jurisdiction to award compensation based on mere ‘prima facie’ findings, without taking the proceedings before it to their full logical conclusion.
While his petition was pending in the High Court, the NHRC had on December 22 accepted Bharti’s request for hearing on the controversial midnight raid in January next and also directed Delhi government to defer payment of monetary relief of Rs 25,000 to the victims, recommended by it on September 29, for a period of two months.