A vacation bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi maintaining that a three-judge bench had already passed an order on May 24 on a similar plea, ruled, “We are not inclined to entertain the petition. The same is devoid of merits. We dismiss it.”
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Gujarat government, said that final argument is over in the 30-year-old custodial death case and the Jamnagar Sessions Court has reserved its verdict for June 20 or the first week of July.
The case stems from the custodial death of one Prabhudas Vaishnani in Gujarat’s Jamnagar in 1989 when Bhatt was serving in the district as additional superintendent of police. According to the prosecution, Bhatt had detained more than a hundred persons during a communal riot in Jamnagar, Gujarat and one of the detainees, Prabhudas Vaishnani had died in hospital after he was released.
He was suspended in 2011 on charges of remaining absent from duty without permission and misuse of official vehicles and later sacked in August 2015.
Sanjiv Bhatt had on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat High Court order which had denied his request to summon certain additional witnesses for examination during the trial in the three-decade-old custodial death case. Bhatt’s plea was mentioned for urgent listing before the vacation bench, which agreed to hear it on Wednesday.
The Gujarat government had termed the move as a tactic to delay the trial.
Last year in September, the sacked ex-IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt was taken into custody by the Gujarat CID over a 1998 case of planting drugs. Despite repeated attempts by the tainted officer’s lawyers and family, Bhatt was denied bail after the Palampur court took cognisance of his criminal past, behaviour and false statements. Afterwards, he had reportedly approached the high court for the same. The Gujarat government had then vehemently opposed Bhatt’s bail application.
The Palanpur Drug planting case pertains to an incident in 1998 when Sanjiv Bhatt was serving as the DCP of Banaskantha. He was then accused of trying framing a lawyer in a fake narcotics case.
The anti-Modi cop is also well known for his legal fight against the Gujarat government and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, who had served as the former chief minister of Gujarat, was accused by Bhatt of being complicit in the murder of Muslims during the 2002 Godhra case. However, the SIT set up by the apex court then had given Modi a clean chit.