Supreme Court turns down sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhat’s plea seeking security for his family

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain sacked Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhat’s plea seeking security for his family.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer asked Bhat to approach the Gujarat High Court with his plea.

On October 4 last year, the apex court dismissed his wife Shweta Bhat’s plea, challenging the police probe and his judicial custody in a 22-year-old case of alleged planting of drugs to arrest an advocate, and said he could approach an “appropriate forum” for relief.

The apex court had held it was not appropriate for it to interfere in the ongoing investigation.

Bhat was suspended in 2011 on charges of remaining absent from duty without permission and misuse of official vehicles and later sacked in August 2015.

His wife Shweta had unsuccessfully contested assembly election as a Congress party candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Maninagar constituency in Ahmedabad in 2012.

Sanjiv Bhatt and seven others, including some former policemen attached with the Banaskantha Police, were initially detained for questioning in the case. Bhat was Banaskantha district superintendent of police in 1996.

According to the police, Banaskantha Police under Bhatt arrested an advocate called Sumersingh Rajpurohit in 1996 on charges of possessing around 1 kg of drugs.

At the time, Banaskantha Police claimed that drugs were found in a hotel room occupied by Rajpurohit in the district’s Palanpur town.

However, a probe by Rajasthan Police concluded that Rajpurohit was allegedly falsely implicated by Banaskantha Police to compel him to transfer a disputed property at Pali in Rajasthan.

It also claimed to have found that Rajpurohit was allegedly abducted by Banaskantha Police from his residence at Pali.

Following the Rajasthan Police investigation, former inspector of Banaskantha I B Vyas moved the Gujarat High Court in 1999 demanding a thorough inquiry into the matter.

In June this year, the high court handed over the probe in the case to the CID while hearing the petition and asked it to complete the probe in three months.

Gujarat Court rejects, Sanjiv Bhatt’s Custody By CID

PALANPUR: A magisterial court in Palanpur,rejected remand application of Gujarat CID (Crime) of former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and a retired police inspector I B Vyas for 14 days and sent the two to Palanpur sub-jail, with a 22-year-old case of alleged planting of drugs to arrest a man.

The CID in its plea while producing both of them before Additional Judicial Magistrate V R Charan, sought for their custody extending up to 14 days. Gujarat government had appointed public prosecutor at HC, Mitesh Amin, for presenting its case.

Arguing against the grant of custody, defence lawyers pointed out that it was a 22-year-old case, and a petition related to the matter was pending before the Supreme Court.

After hearing the arguments, the magistrate rejected the CID’s demand, and sent both the accused in judicial custody at Palanpur sub-jail.

The case, with long history and multiple litigation, relates to the arrest of a Rajasthan lawyer Sumersingh Rajpurohit, who was booked by Banaskantha police under the provisions of NDPS Act on April 30, 1996. On recovering allegedly around one kg of opium in 1996, the CID arrested Sumersingh Rajpurohit over the charges of keeping drugs with him.

Sanjiv Bhatt held the post of superintendent of police for Banaskantha district in 1996.

Sanjiv Bhatt always proved to be critical and the human rights advocate over the 2002 Gujarat riots and criticized the then chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.

Former Gujarat top cop Sreekumar seeks security for Sanjiv Bhatt

Former Gujarat additional director general of police R.B. Sreekumar has urged the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team to provide security to senior police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has filed an affidavit implicating Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots.

In a letter addressed to SIT chief R.K. Raghavan, with copies to the registrar general of the apex court, the chairman of the NHRC and the director general of Gujarat Police, Sreekumar has said that Bhatt’s affidavit contains vital evidence incriminating and damaging to Modi in relation to the meeting chaired by him on Feb 27, 2002 evening in which instructions violative of the letter, spirit and ethos of the Constitution were reportedly given.

Bhatt is currently DIG at the state Reserve Police Training College in Junagadh. Earlier, a former state minister, Haren Pandya, who submitted similar information to the Citizens Tribunal, headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, had been assassinated in suspicious circumstances. “It is learnt that police protection provided to Bhatt has been withdrawn recently, without assigning any reason. He and his family should be provided with adequate and effective security cover, after proper and comprehensive threat assessment urgently,” the letter states.

Sreekumar has stated that Bhatt, who served the State Intelligence Bureau, during his tenure as Additional Director General of Police, (ADGP) Intelligence from April 9, 2002 to Sep 18, 2002 was quite successful in collecting many advance intelligence inputs on the communal situation in those disturbed days in Gujarat, and disseminating these to concerned persons.

“I had even appended copies of 12 such reports in my First Affidavit to the Justice Nanavati judicial inquiry commission on July 15, 2002, and 2 in my Second Affidavit to the Commission on Oct 6, 2004. Bhatt was transferred untimely out of the Intelligence Bureau on Sep 18, 2002 along with me, reportedly for submitting a report, to the state government, on a controversial speech with communal overtones delivered by Modi in Mehsana district, during his Gaurav Yatra in the first week of September 2002,” it states.

Sreekumar, in his letter, has expressed the apprehension that activists of the Sangh Parivar and over-zealous fans of Modi are likely to nurture severe ill-will and hatred against the IPS officer for revealing information adversely affecting the chief minister’s image and therefore the urgent need for security for Bhatt and his family.

Bhatt, in his affidavit, says that Modi, in his Feb 27, 2002 meeting after the Godhra train burning in which 59 Kar Sevaks were killed, told officials: “This time the situation warrants that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again.”

“The chief minister expressed the view that emotions were running very high among the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to vent their anger,” said the affidavit, made available to the media.

I stand by my statement: Sanjiv Bhatt

A senior police officer, who has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court implicating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots in the wake of the Godhra train burning, says he will not backtrack from his statement despite any pressure.

 Bhatt said in his affidavit that Modi had said that Hindus should be allowed to vent their “anger” after the death of 59 kar sevaks when two bogies of the Sabramati Express were set afire Feb 27, 2002. He also expressed his doubts about the neutrality of the Special Investigative Team (SIT) probing the violence that followed and which claimed over 1,000 lives.

Answering a question by CNN-IBN Friday on pressure on him to withdraw his testimony, Bhatt said: “I have never backed out from saying the truth anywhere, anytime in my life.” He said that any kind of pressure would only make him more determined. “Instead of worrying me, this kind of subversion makes me more resolute because all I am doing is stating the truth. I am stating what I know,” said Bhatt, a 1988 batch Indian Police Service officer.

He added that he had not publicly disclosed the information earlier as he was governed by conduct rules. “I was privy to a whole lot of information as an intelligence officer. So I can only disclose if I was under a legal consideration and not before that,” he said, pointing out that he had covered all these points in his testimony to SIT.

In 2002, Bhatt was based in Gandhinagar as deputy commissioner of intelligence in the State Intelligence Bureau. He is now posted as principal of the State Reserve Police Centre in Junagarh.

Bhatt said there was no question of his leaving the police force. “Not at all. I have 13 more years to go.” Bhatt added that concerns of safety of his family had been raised in his affidavit. He said that he had asked the state police to upgrade his security, but this was ignored – rather, his current security detail was also withdrawn.

Bhatt, in his affidavit, said: “The chief minister expressed the view that the emotions were running very high among the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to vent out their anger.”

“This time the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again,” Bhatt quoted the chief minister as saying when a section of officers told him that bringing the bodies of the train burning victims to Ahmedabad from Godhra would only inflame passions.