Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has been consistently finding himself in the headlines soon after he declared war against his boss, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, over police inaction in the 2002 Godhra riots. The officer had alleged that Modi ordered the police to be soft on Hindu rioters on 27 February 2002 in an affidavit signed by a constable.
The Gujarat government immediately retaliated by arresting the IPS officer on Friday saying that the affidavit was forcefully obtained from constable KD Pant. The officer, who is a MTech from the class of 1985, IIT-Bombay, is currently lodged at Sabarmati jail in judicial custody.
However, in a setback to the Gujarat government, an Ahmedabad court on Wednesday (5 October 2011) rejected its application against arrested IPS officer Bhatt and said it would hear his bail plea. Following this order, hearing on the bail application of Bhatt is to begin soon.
Gujarat government had opposed the hearing on the grounds that Bhatt’s revision remand application was pending.
A Firstpost (4 October 2011) report said Bhatt refused to make any compromise with the Gujarat government after an Ahmedabad court proposed that if he went on police remand for about three hours his bail plea could be heard Tuesday itself.
The response by Bhatt came after sessions judge GN Patel made the proposal during hearing on the state government's revision application for his remand.
"I cannot compromise with those goons. Whatever wrong the government wants to do I do not care. I will tolerate it," Bhatt said to the open court.
Bhatt's lawyer Sayed said, "The court suggested to Bhatt that he should go for two or three hours remand and his bail application will be heard later in the day".
"To this suggestion, Bhatt told the judge that he would not go for any compromise on this. Bhatt further told the judge that he believes in law and let law take its own course and give him a legal order," Sayed said.
Sayed said Bhatt is ready to be in jail for a longer duration but he will not compromise on his principles and was confident that the rule of law will prevail.
The court reserved the order on the state government's remand revision application of Bhatt for 7 October.
The BJP government is, however, defending its action against Bhatt. Gujarat Health Minister and spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas on Monday shielded the state government over Bhatt's arrest.
"Bhatt was arrested on the basis of a police complaint filed by his own former subordinate in his private capacity," Vyas said, as per a report at India-Behind the Lens on 5 October 2011.
Calling Bhatt a police officer with several criminal charges since he joined in 1988, the minister said, "There were cases registered against him even before 2001 when there was no Modi government. And yet the prejudiced Congress continues to link his arrest to the chief minister, exposing its intention to malign the state government."
Bhatt's past is not free of controversies.
The Hindu on 18 August 2011 reported that Bhatt was suspended in August owing to his refusal to toe the state government line and a 21-year-old case was reopened against him. He also received a bailable arrest warrant from the court of additional sessions judge NT Solanki in Jamnagar because of his failure to appear on Tuesday in the 1990 case.
The earlier case also relates to communal clash in the state's Jamjodhpur taluk on 30 October 1990. Bhatt, who was then district deputy superintendent, arrested 133 people. A Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist Prabhudas Vaishnani died 11 days after he was released from police custody. Following his death, the brother of the deceased Amrutlal Vaishnani filed a police complaint against Bhatt and other cops alleging custodial death.
Gujarat CID (Crime) then sought permission from the government under Section 197 of the CrPC to prosecute the accused as per the complaint. But the government in 1995 informed the court that Bhatt and police personnel had "acted in good faith" and asked the CID (crime) to file a closure report, The Hindu story said.
However, the court rejected the government's petition and ordered prosecution. In response, the state government filed a revision petition in 1996. This review petition was withdrawn the day Bhatt filed his affidavit in the Supreme Court against Modi in the Godhra riots case.
According to The Hindu report, Bhatt could not attend the Jamnagar hearing as he was at the Gujarat High Court challenging the withdrawal of petition for which he got a bailable warrant.
Meanwhile, in an earlier story (1 October 2011), Firstpost reported that Bhatt's wife Shweta said she feared for her husband's life and wrote to the Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police demanding justice. "Since yesterday, I am not allowed to meet Sanjiv. The police officials are not even allowing the lawyer to meet him. Then how can we file his bail application,” she said.
Shweta, also wrote to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram appealing to him for Bhatt’s safety and has accused the government and the state police of colluding in targetting Bhatt.
Upon receiving Shweta's letter, Home Secretary R K Singh convened a high-level meeting to take stock of her complaint, Economic Times reported on 4 October 2011.
"The Home Ministry has written to the Gujarat government to ensure adequate security to Bhatt and his family as per local threat perception," Economic Times quoting a Home Ministry official said.
Updated Date: Oct 05, 2011 14:49 PM