Guj HC rejects bail plea of ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt

Guj HC rejects bail plea of ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday rejected the bail application of former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is languishing in jail since his arrest in September last year for allegedly framing a Rajasthan-based lawyer in a narcotics case in 1996.

Justice Sonia Gokani, while rejecting Bhatt's plea, directed the prosecution to complete the arguments in six months. Bhatt had moved High Court after a special trial court in Palanpur, Banaskantha district refused to grant him bail.

Bhatt was arrested by CID (crime) officers on September 5, 2018 following a Gujarat High Court order that asked the agency to investigate the case. The CID opposed the bail on various grounds, including other criminal cases against Bhatt.

Bhatt is alleged to have framed lawyer Sumer Singh Rajpurohit, a resident of Pali, Rajasthan, in the narcotics case to get a property vacated in Pali. This property belonged to a relative of R R Jain,  then sitting judge of Gujarat High Court. Bhatt was then Superintendent of Police of Banaskantha district, which shares its border with Pali district.

Background

The CID (crime) alleged that Bhatt was a key conspirator, who spent Rs 20,000 to buy opium, which was planted in a hotel room in Palanpur. Probe revealed that lawyer Rajpurohit was brought by a police team, led by co-accused I B Vyas, to Palanpur as part of "conspiracy." After Rajpurohit agreed to vacate the property, he was allowed to go and the narcotics case closed.

The controversial Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was dismissed from service in 2015, years after he openly spoke against then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister.

In 2011, Bhatt had filed an affidavit in Supreme Court alleging that he was present in a meeting on February 27, 2002 held at Chief Minister's residence in Gandhinagar following the Sabarmati Express train carnage.

Bhatt alleged in the affidavit that in this meeting Modi had told officers "to let Hindus vent their anger". In the following years, none of Bhatt's claims were accepted either by the apex court or by the special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court to probe Godhra riots cases.