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Somnath Bharti via Deepak Khosla challenge of NHRC racism compensation dismissed by Delhi HC

The Delhi high court Tuesday dismissed former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti’s plea seeking to quash an NHRC order against him related to his controversial midnight campaign against an alleged drug and prostitution racket in the capital.

Justice VK Shali directed Bharti to approach the court once the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passes its order in the matter.

The court also took notice of NHRC’s Monday order deferring the payment of compensation to the African women victims for two months. The NHRC had announced the compensation Sep 29.

“I don’t agree with the submission that the petition is maintainable. The Sep 29 order is already under scrutiny before NHRC A perusal of the Dec 22 order shows that the NHRC has recorded submission of Somnath Bharti and it is posted for further hearing on Jan 13, 2015,” the court said.

“Since the commission is seized of the matter challenging the Sep 29 order and it is still not final, therefore the present petition is not maintainable,” it said.

At the outset, the court said the petition filed by Bharti was “premature and it can’t be entertained”.

The NHRC had Sep 29 ordered the payment of Rs.25,000 each to 12 African women “victims of racial prejudice and unlawful acts”, whose homes the Aam Aadmi Party leader had allegedly barged into during the controversial midnight campaign in Khirki Extension area in south Delhi.

Bharti had Nov 3 sent a notice to the NHRC chairperson seeking recall of the panel’s Sep 29 order, saying he was not given the relevant documents. The matter will come up for hearing Jan 13, 2015.

The then law minister had allegedly visited a house in Khirki Extension in January after receiving complaints about an alleged prostitution and drug racket being run from there.

Seeking directions to nullify the NHRC’s Sep 29 order, Bharti’s plea said the decision had no jurisdiction as he was not given a “reasonable opportunity” to be heard and to produce evidence in his defence.

Calling for the order to be declared a “nullity in law”, the plea said: “Bharti was not given any notice of certain proceedings initiated by the NHRC suo motu in January 2014, in which he was prejudicially viewed by the NHRC to be a principal actor, but in which proceedings he was not given any opportunity at all of being heard.”

Filed through advocate Deepak Khosla, the plea said the commission, while announcing the compensation, said it believed that the human rights of the African women were violated and hence the case was fit for monetary relief.

The plea said the NHRC direction gives an impression that the allegations were “prima facie proved”.

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