|Member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly
for Malviya Nagar
8 December 2013
|Preceded by||Kiran Walia|
10 May 1974 |
Hisua Bazar in Nawada, Bihar
|Political party||Aam Aadmi Party|
|Spouse(s)||Lipika (m. 2010)|
|Residence||New Delhi, India|
|Alma mater||IIT Delhi, University of Delhi|
|Occupation||Lawyer, activist and politician|
Somnath Bharti (born 10 May 1974) is an Indian lawyer who has become a politician representing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). As a lawyer, he practised at the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court. He was elected as the AAP candidate for the Malviya Nagar constituency in the Delhi state assembly elections, 2013 and was Minister of Law, Tourism, Administrative Reforms, Art & Culture in the Government of Delhi, from 28 December 2013 to 14 February 2014, at which time the AAP government resigned.
Bharti spent his childhood at Hisua Bazar in Nawada. He was educated firstly at a local school and went to Patna for intermediate education. After completing his post-graduate M.Sc. from IIT Delhi, Bharti pursued a degree in law at Delhi University. He served IIT Delhi Alumni Association as its Secretary for 2007-08 and 2011–12 and as IIT Delhi Senator in 2008.
In the 2000s, Somnath Bharti ran a Delhi-based IT firm. Madgen Solutions. The Spamhaus Project accused him of spamming on behalf of TopSites LLC, naming him in Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) as one of the top spam operators in the world. According to Bharti, he was listed in ROKSO after an Open Directory Project editor Conrad Longmore ran a story on him. Responding to a PCQuest investigation in 2005, he insisted that all the e-mails sent by his company complied with the laws and regulations. PCQuest found that he had been sued in a California Superior Court for spamming by Daniel Balsam. Balsam's attorney Timothy Walton revealed that in 2004, Bharti and two others had paid Balsam in damages apart from making a court declaration agreeing to use only confirmed opt-in e-mail addresses when sending commercial e-mails. Bharti defended himself by saying that he chose to settle because defending the case in the United States would have been costlier for him. Bharti also claimed that he was in touch with SpamHaus, but the SpamHaus CEO Steve Linford denied this to PCQuest.
In June 2012, Bharti was involved in a campaign against the alleged interference of the then Minister of Human Resources and Development, Kapil Sibal, in the Joint Entrance Examination process for admission to Indian Institutes of Technology. In 2010-2013, he appeared in news for defending the rights of homeschooled children and subscribers of alternate education system in view of the binding provision of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act through Public Interest Litigations filed in Delhi High Court thrice. In response to his PILs, the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, through an affidavit, clarified that they are not against homeschooling.
Patiala House Court had in 2013 indicted Bharti for "tampering with evidence" along with his client, Pawan Kumar, in a corruption case. He was asked by the Bar Council of Delhi to explain why he should not be disbarred.
Bharti was the Aam Aadmi Party candidate for the Malviya Nagar constituency in the Delhi state assembly elections, 2013. Bharti won the seat, defeating Arti Mehra of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the incumbent Kiran Walia of the Indian National Congress. Walia had won the seat in 1999, 2003, and 2008 and had been education minister in the earlier government, while Mehra, who has represented the neighbouring Hauz Khas constituency for many years, had been Mayor of Delhi in 2007-2009. In contrast, Bharti was new to politics.
Bharti was briefly Minister of Law, Tourism, Administrative Reforms, Art & Culture in the Government of Delhi. He was appointed on 28 December 2013 and left office on 14 February 2014 when the government of which he was a part resigned due a failure to enact a Jan Lokpal bill. In January 2014, during his time in office, Bharti revealed the identity of a Danish tourist who had been raped, despite such identification being illegal in India.
The government's resignation, led by Arvind Kejriwal, pre-empted a personal resignation by Bharti in response to accusations of vigilantism. Some residents in the Khirkee Extension area of Delhi had complained to Bharti about a drug and prostitution racket allegedly being run by African nationals. In January 2014, he and some AAP workers, together with television camera crews, visited the area. Bharti and his supporters asked the police to raid the homes rented by Africans. When the police refused to do so, citing a lack of a warrant, a group led by Bharti allegedly caught four women and forced them to give urine tests. The tests conducted at AIIMS did not find any drug traces in their system. The women alleged that they had been threatened and molested by the mob.
The AAP supported Bharti, calling the women's allegations false and stating that his actions were not racist and that residents had long complained of criminal activities by Africans in the area. Kejriwal demanded suspension of the police officers who had refused to conduct the raid. A court directed the police to lodge a First Information Report against the mob, and the Delhi Commission for Women also opened an investigation into the matter. Kejriwal's government had come under increasing political pressure to act against Bharti in the hours preceding its resignation. An independent judicial enquiry conducted on behalf of the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi announced on 28 February 2014 that the police had been correct not to accede to Bharti's demands and that Bharti should not have then taken the law into his own hands by leading the raid. The police investigation into the events in not expected to report until 26 March 2014.
Domestic abuse allegations
On 10 September 2015, Bharti was arrested on a domestic abuse case after his wife alleged he beat her for a prolonged period. A non-bailable warrant was also issued against him by a Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea and he finally surrendered at the Dwarka Police Station late at night on 29 September 2015 under directions from the Supreme Court. Bharti obtained conditional bail, whereas his dog was exonerated.
- "Domestic violence case against AAP leader Somnath Bharti". The Hindu. Retrieved 2015-06-11.
- "Mr. Somnath Bharti Biography". Retrieved 11 October 2013.
- "Sibal broke his promise and is selling a myth to the country: Somnath Bharti". Business Standard. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
- Bihar's Pappu named minister in Delhi government
- "Indian student in Chicago jail alleges taunts and abuse". NRI Today. 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- "The ROKSO List: 200 Known Spam Operations responsible for 80% of your spam" (PDF). SpamHaus. 14 June 2005.
- "Somnath Bharti at the root of disenchantment with AAP". Economic Times. 24 January 2014.
- "Top spammer?". PCQuest. 4 August 2005.
- Conrad Longmore. "Topsites Revisited". Dynamoo. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
- "Notice to government on plea for amendment to Right To Education Act". The Economic Times. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "RTE not against home schooling and alternate education: MHRD". The Indian Express. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "We don’t need no education". The Indian Express. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
- "Trouble for AAP: Did Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti tamper with evidence?". 14 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- "Somnath Bharti issued show-cause notice by Bar council of Delhi for tampering evidence". DNA. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- "Delhi Polls: AAP Releases First List of 11 Candidates". Outlook. 15 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Delhi polls: Several heavyweight Cong, BJP leaders bite dust". Deccan Chronicle. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
- "Name". Delhiassembly.nic.in. 28 October 1944. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
- "Why the Aam Aadmi Party’s Victory in Delhi Elections Is a Big Deal - India Real Time - WSJ". Blogs.wsj.com. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
- "Know your Delhi minister: Somnath Bharti". NDTV. 28 December 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- "Delhi anti-corruption chief minister Arvind Kejriwal quits". BBC. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- "Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti named Danish rape survivor in press release". NDTV. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- Nanda, Rupashree (16 February 2014). "Was ready with resignation in Delhi Assembly: Somnath Bharti". CNN-IBN. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- "AAP minister Somnath Bharti’s top 6 controversies". The Times of India. 24 January 2014.
- "Somnath Bharti to appear before DCW; PIL against AAP dharna in SC". Zee News. 24 January 2014.
- "Unruly scenes in Delhi Assembly, bangles, lipstick hurled at Somnath Bharti". India Today Online. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
- "AAP MLA Somnath Bharti indicted in Malviya Nagar midnight raid". 4 March 2014.
- "Somnath Bharti appeals in Delhi HC; seeks anticipatory bail". news.biharprabha.com. ANI. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
- "Supreme Court to hear ex-Delhi LawMin Bharti’s bail plea on 28 September". 1, Law Street. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
- Domestic violence case: Bail for AAP MLA Somnath Bharti, clean chit for his dog Don
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