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Bar Council notice to Somnath Bharti

Posted on Jan 20 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Jan 20 : The Bar Council of Delhi Monday issued notice to Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti seeking his response on the issue where a CBI judge had said Bharti "tampered with evidence" by "influencing a prosecution witness" in a case he was handling last year.

In August 2013, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court held Bharti's conduct as not only highly objectionable, unethical but also amounting to tampering of evidence, after he, as a defence lawyer in a corruption case, contacted a prosecution witness and attempted to bring on record an audio-recording of a conversation before the court.

According to law, defence lawyers are not allowed to contact or try to influence prosecution witnesses in any manner.

"We took suo moto cognizance of the remarks made by a Special CBI judge against Somnath Bharti that his conduct was highly objectionable, unethical and amounting to tampering of evidence. We want him to explain his stand to the council on the same issue," council secretary Murari Tiwari told IANS.

In a meeting held at the Bar Council of Delhi office in the premises of Delhi High Court, the council members also sought the law minister's response on the delay in surrendering his Bar Council licence even after taking up an office of profit.

Tiwari further told IANS: "After a lawyer holds any profitable post, he has to surrender his licence immediately, which Somnath Bharti has not done. Now, he filed an application for suspension of licence which is very late. He had to surrender his licence immediately after taking oath as the law minister."

The council sought Bharti's response by Feb 7.

Bharti Jan 18 applied for surrendering his Bar Council licence after the Delhi Bar Council threatened to take action against him.

The lawyer's body has asked for his enrolment certificate which is issued when a person is granted the licence to practice law. Bharti, however, has not submitted his enrolment certificate yet, Tiwari said.

Tiwari also said that once Bharti demits his full time office as law minister and wishes to return to the legal profession, the licence could be revived.

A close aide of Bharti said anyone who holds an office of profit had to surrender the bar council licence and it is normal process.

Bharti enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi as an advocate in 2008.

The Bar Council of Delhi is an autonomous statutory body that has the power to take action against lawyers enrolled here.

Meanwhile, the council also considered Bharatiya Janata Party Delhi unit chief Vijay Goel's complaint seeking action against Bharti for his conduct of influencing witness in the case.

"We also asked Vijay Goel, who is the complainant, to appear before the council Feb 7 and put forward his stand," Tiwari told IANS.

The case relates to Pawan Kumar, a bank employee, prosecuted by the CBI in three separate cases for his alleged acts of omission and commission while employed with the State Bank of Mysore since 2006.

Kumar had moved an application seeking court's permission to place on record the audio recording of the conversation while the CBI filed a plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to Kumar on the ground he tried to tamper with the evidence.

The Supreme and the Delhi high courts had also dismissed the appeal of Bharti's client in the case.

Goel said instead of accepting his mistake, Bharti tried to justify his conduct by terming the court judgment erroneous.

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