Delhi law minister under cloud; 'must quit' say Cong, BJP
15 January 2014
The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday united to demand the immediate resignation of Delhi's law minister Somnath Bharti of the Aam Admi Party following an accusation after a former CBI judge accused him of tampering with evidence in a case he was handling last year.
"People in this country respect the judiciary the most. Our judiciary is independent and nothing can be more serious than its raising such questions," said Congress' Delhi chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.
"Whether a department like law should be headed by a person who is himself accused of breaking the law is a matter of concern," he added.
In August last year, Bharti and his client were fighting a corruption case in a special CBI court in Delhi when the judge said their conduct is "not only highly objectionable and unethical, but also amounts to tampering with evidence."
Bharti has denied the charges. "We made an audio CD to expose those making false claims in the Rs116-crore case, but the court refused to go into the details of the tapes. I don't see this as tampering with evidence. The CBI should catch the real culprits," he told reporters.
But he evaded questions on whether, as a defence counsel, it was unethical for him to contact a prosecution witness.
Kejriwal stood by his minister, calling the court observation "completely wrong".
"A sting operation has been called tampering of evidence - it is not tampering of evidence," said the chief minister.
"Kejriwal must deliver on his promise that he made to the people of zero tolerance towards corruption," said Shakeel Ahmad of the Congress, which gives outside support to the AAP government.
"This is a very serious allegation against Somnath Bharti. He misbehaved with his law secretary once. Now there is fresh evidence that he tried to tamper with evidence in an important case," said BJP leader Harsh Vardhan, who was chief ministerial candidate in the December Delhi election.