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True story: Another magistrate bows out in Deepak Khosla’s Somnath case; DK sends 62-page complaint to Chief Justice

Khosla: Man on a missio
Khosla: Man on a missio

Metropolitan Magistrate Ankita Lal today transferred the alleged midnight raid case against former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti to a higher court after being annoyed by defence counsel Deepak Khosla, who wanted to record court proceedings and was seeking an earlier date of hearing, only two days after a magistrate had recused herself over Khosla’s language.

Lal transferred the case back to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Vivek Kumar Gulia to pass an appropriate order in the matter.

Another magistrate on Monday recused herself from hearing the matter and sent the case to the CMM. Metropolitan Magistrate Niti Phutela had on 3 November recused herself from hearing the 16 January midnight raid case after Khosla told the court that he had no faith in it. She transferred the matter back to the CMM for passing an order.

The court direction came while passing its order on Bharti's plea for registering a first information report against “erring policemen” for conducting a biased probe in the case.

The court said the plea made by Bharti was premature and could not be entertained without availing the appropriate remedies. However, it kept the application pending.

Today

Khosla requested the court to apprise him of the decision on the plea for filing an FIR before the order was signed by the magistrate. He told court that he wanted to address further argument on this matter.

The CMM today marked the case to Magistrate Lal to conduct further proceedings.

Magistrate Lal posted the matter for further hearing in December as she has to read the file. On this, Bharti's counsel Deepak Khosla showed his dissatisfaction and sought early hearing.

Khosla also started recording court proceedings, which the magistrate opposed. The court then transferred the matter to the CMM, who posted the matter for Nov 7 for further hearing.

Clarification: The original story stated that Lal recused herself. Khosla has told Legally India that she did not recuse herself but only transferred the case back to the CMM because she couldn’t offer him an earlier hearing date.

Yesterday: Khosla complains to CJ

Khosla complained to Delhi high court chief justice G Rohini about Phutela’s recusal, arguing that when he asked a metropolitan magistrate hearing his matter to reproduce his submissions “verbatim” and and “not in the unusual sort of English that she was resorting to”, the magistrate recused herself from the matter for use of “unparliamentary language” and “insulting the court”.

In his 62-page complaint letter to Rohini, Khosla stated that the magistrate has “committed criminal contempt of her own court”, and he again urged the chief justice to allow litigants and lawyers to independently record court proceedings – something that has been a long-running cause dear to the heart of the serial writ petitioner turned advocate.

In his detailed 26-page account of the proceedings, during which the magistrate recused from his matter, Khosla wrote:

I submitted respectfully that it is a mistaken approach on the part of magistrates who conduct their proceedings by asking a party what he has to say, and not realising the trap that awaits him, the party expounds on grounds 1,2,3,4 and 5, upon hearing of which the court asks “Anything else?” , to which the party responds “On these 5 issues no, but if there is anything else the court would like me to elaborate upon, I shall be glad to do so” , in response to which the court says “It’s up to you if your have nothing further to say, then orders are reserved.” , only then to proceed to dismiss the petition on the grounds that the Petitioner has , while arguing points 1-5, not argued or had anything to say regarding points 6, 7 and 8 in light of which the prayer cannot be granted.

Bharti’s case

Bharti and 17 others were charge sheeted on 29 September under 16 sections of the Indian Penal Code, including outraging the modesty of women.

In the charge sheet, a document of over 100 pages, police have cited around 41 prosecution witnesses, including nine African women, to buttress the charges.

Police lodged a first information report Jan 19 against "unidentified accused" on the court's direction and booked them on various charges dealing with wrongful confinement, criminal intimidation and act intended to insult the modesty of a woman.

The court order came on a plea by a Ugandan woman who wanted an FIR to be registered against unidentified people for creating a ruckus during the raid between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. in Khirki Extension here Jan 16.

The minister allegedly visited a house in Khirki Extension after receiving complaints about an alleged prostitution and drug racket in the area.

Khosla is representing Bharti in seeking Rs 250 crore in damages from the police, as reported by Legally India last week.

With agency inputs

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