Gujarat: IPS Sanjiv Bhatt in custodial death case crosshairs again

Gujarat: IPS Sanjiv Bhatt in custodial death case crosshairs again

Bhatt has filed the appeal challenging his conviction in the custodial death case of Prabhudas Vaishnani, who was caught by Jamnagar police after a communal riot.

FPJ BureauUpdated: Wednesday, March 29, 2023, 09:06 AM IST
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Sanjiv Bhatt |

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, granted time to the state of Gujarat to file its counter affidavit on a plea filed by former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt seeking to adduce additional evidence in the criminal appeal filed by him in the Gujarat High Court challenging his conviction in a 1990 custodial death case.

Bhatt has filed the appeal challenging his conviction in the custodial death case of Prabhudas Vaishnani, who was caught by Jamnagar police after a communal riot. The bench comprising Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar said no formal notice is required to be issued in the matter as senior advocate Maninder Singh has already appeared for the state. The top court asked the state government to file its reply by April 11 and posted the matter for hearing on April 18.

Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Bhatt, submitted that the Gujarat government has not filed its reply despite seeking several adjournments. He submitted, "See the conduct of other side. Five times they sought time to file affidavit and today they are seeking further time. See the mischief.”

In August 2022, Bhatt had withdrawn his plea in the apex court seeking suspension of his life sentence in the 30-year-old custodial death case.

The high court had earlier refused to suspend Bhatt’s sentence and observed he had had scant respect for courts and deliberately tried to misuse the process of law. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2019 in the case.

About the case of custodial death

The case relates to the custodial death of Prabhudas Vaishnani, who was among 133 people caught by Jamnagar police after a communal riot broke out following a bandh call in view of BJP leader L K Advani’s Rath Yatra.

Subsequently, his brother lodged an FIR accusing Bhatt, who was then posted as additional superintendent of police in Jamnagar, and six other policemen of torturing Vaishnani to death in custody.

Before the trial court, Bhatt had filed an application to produce expert evidence of one doctor to support his argument that the death of Prabhudas was not due to the alleged sit ups he was made to do forcefully by the police. The trial court had rejected the application. In the criminal appeal before the Gujarat High Court Bhatt filed an application under Section 391 Cr.P.C. seeking to adduce expert evidence. That too was dismissed. The same has now been challenged before the Apex Court.

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