Somnath Bharti looked like the most promising minister when he took oath as Delhi’s law minister on December 28. As the most educated member of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s cabinet, Bharti had plans to "empower the judiciary and reform the existing system by making sure justice is fast and affordable for the poor". Ironically, he is now drawing flak for not understanding the law properly.
Thirty nine-year-old Bharti is undoubtedly the most controversial minister of the AAP government so far. An alumnus of IIT Delhi, Bharti had first taken to working for public issues by filing PILs. He was working as an IT consultant when he started exploring the legal way to raise issues and get them resolved. Soon he decided to quit his job and study law. He later became a Supreme Court lawyer.
His clash with Delhi Police at Khirki was not his first. He had defended in court eight people accused of causing constable Subhash Tomar’s death during the protests near India Gate after December 16 gang rape incident. They were all acquitted.
As an activist, he raised the issue of two deaths caused by contaminated drinking water in the NCERT campus last year.
He was also an active member of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association and served as its secretary in 2007-08 and 2011-12 and later as its president in 2012-13.
In fact, Bharti was instrumental in generating support from IITians for Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal movement. It was at the Pan-IIT meet organized by this association when Bharti first met Kejriwal. He then represented Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh against the government in a corruption case related to Commonwealth Games. He has guided AAP in many legal matters since.
A resident of Malviya Nagar, Bharti contested the Delhi Assembly polls in December 2013 from the same constituency on an AAP ticket and defeated Congress minister Kiran Walia and BJP’s Arti Mehra, a former mayor.