A sessions court in Jamnagar, Gujarat, sentenced former Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt to life imprisonment in connection with a 1990 custodial death case, ANI reported. He was found guilty under the Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
The custodial death case dates back to the time when Bhatt was the additional superintendent of police in Jamnagar. The prosecution had alleged that Bhatt had detained more than a hundred people in connection with a communal riot and one of the detainees died in hospital after he was released.
On June 12, the Supreme Court had declined to consider Bhatt’s plea seeking fresh examination of witnesses. Bhatt had moved the Supreme Court challenging a Gujarat High Court order, which declined his request to summon certain additional witnesses for examination during the trial in the case.
The Gujarat government had informed the top court that the trial court has already reserved judgement for June 20. A vacation bench of the top court found merit in the Gujarat government’s argument and prosecution that all witnesses had been produced, and as a result the trial had been concluded, and hence the plea was a delay tactic.
In April 2011, Bhatt had moved the Supreme Court against then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and accused him of encouraging the 2002 riots that left 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims. Bhatt claimed that he had attended a meeting at Modi’s residence on February 27, 2002, at which the chief minister allegedly told his officers to “allow Hindus to vent their anger”.
Bhatt was suspended soon after he made the claims and was sacked in 2015. His department cited several reasons for his dismissal, including various counts of indiscipline such as staying absent from duty without permission and defying the orders of superior officers.