The Jamnagar Sessions Court on Thursday sentenced former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt to life imprisonment under Indian Penal Code in a case related to 1990 custodial death. Bhatt, a 1988-batch IPS officer, is at present in judicial custody in a 22-year old drug planting case of Banaskantha, in a Palanpur jail. In the 1990 case, Bhatt had detained 150 people during a communal riot in Jamjodhpur town. It coincided with LK Advani’s rath yatra. His twitter bio reads: “Live with purpose. Walk the edge. Play hard. Laugh with abandon. Choose with no regret. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.” Earlier on June 12, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain Bhatt’s plea that sought examination of 11 additional witnesses in the three-decade-old custodial death case. A vacation bench of justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi had said that a three-judge bench had already passed an order on May 24 on a similar plea and therefore it cannot entertain the petition. Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Gujarat government, said that final argument is over in the custodial death case and the trial court has reserved its verdict for June 20.
Bhatt is an accused in the case. He was posted as the additional superintendent of police in Gujarat's Jamnagar at that time. According to the prosecution, Bhatt had detained more than hundred persons during a communal riot there and one of the detainees had died in hospital after he was released.
He was suspended in 2011 on charges of remaining absent from duty without permission and misuse of official vehicles, and later sacked in August 2015. Bhatt on Tuesday moved the apex court, challenging a Gujarat High Court order which had denied his request to summon additional witnesses for examination during the trial.
The Gujarat government termed the move by Bhatt as a tactic to delay the trial. The state government had submitted that another bench had on May 24 directed the trial court not to delay the case any more in any manner whatsoever and not to entertain unnecessary applications delaying the decision in the case.
When the petition was mentioned on Tuesday, the Gujarat government said that the top court had directed the lower court to complete the trial positively by June 20 and Bhatt's plea is nothing but a tactic to delay the outcome of the case.
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