Sacked Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt. (File photo)
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agrees to hear on January 10 the petition of sacked Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, seeking to bring in additional evidence in an appeal filed by him in the Gujarat High Court, as per media reports. Bhatt has filed an appeal in the high court challenging his conviction in a 1990 custodial death case.
Bhatt was one of the first officers to report that the Godhra train burning incident could trigger retaliatory violence and revealed that then Chief Minister Narendra Modi had told senior police officials at his Gandhinagar residence on the night of 27 February 2002 that people should be allowed to “vent their anger against Muslims” for 72 hours to avenge the Godhra incident.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar asked senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Bhatt, if he was serious with regard to a plea seeking recusal of Justice Shah.
Kamat submitted the idea was not to attach ‘bias’ to the Judge but apprehension of ‘bias’, according to PTI. He said certain issues which are the subject matter of the Special Leave Petition had been decided by Justice Shah on an earlier occasion when he was a judge in the high court.
The LiveLaw reported that Justice Shah then remarked, “Your objection is rejected. Merely some order has been passed in some discharge application, it has nothing to do with this controversy. Apprehension should have a reasonable nexus. If you want, we can say many things to say… we will consider.”
In August 2022, Bhatt had withdrawn his plea in the apex court seeking suspension of his life sentence in the 30-year-old custodial death case. The high court had earlier refused to suspend Bhatt’s sentence and observed he had had scant respect for courts and deliberately tried to misuse the process of law.
The case relates to the custodial death of Prabhudas Vaishnani, who was among 133 people caught by Jamnagar police after a communal riot broke out following a bandh call in view of BJP leader L K Advani’s Rath Yatra.
Vaishnani’s brother lodged an FIR accusing Bhatt and six other policemen of killing his sibling by torturing him while he was in their custody.
Sanjiv Bhatt was the deputy commissioner incharge of Internal Security at the State Intelligence Bureau when riots broke out in Gujarat in 2002.
The former officer also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, alleging that the SIT was attempting to protect Modi and the other powers that be. However, his allegations were refuted and the accused were given a clean chit.
The Kashmiri-born officer was dismissed from the police service in 2015 and put on trial for charges the Gujarat government had filed against him. In its judgment, the court observed that Bhatt “hatched a political conspiracy, was tutored by certain NGOs, and was involved in politics of creating pressure.”
-INDIA NEWS STREAM