AHMADABAD – The Gujarat High Court has cited that former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt had “scant respect for the courts” and “scant regard for the truth” as reasons for rejecting his application for suspension of his sentence in the 1990 custodial death case.
The order passed by Justice Bela Trivedi on September 25 was made public on the HC website on Monday. The order noted that with Bhatt convicted for murder under IPC section 302, the initial presumption of innocence in favour of the accused was no longer available. The court of Justice Trivedi also took into consideration public prosecutor Mitesh Amin’s reliance on the observations made by the Gujarat HC as well as the apex court against Bhatt in other proceedings.
“…it appears that the applicant has scant respect for the courts and is in the habit of misusing the process of law and scandalising the court. Some of the observations made by the Supreme Court in the proceedings filed by the applicant substantiates the submissions made by Mr Amin, more particularly in the case of Sanjiv Rajendra Bhatt vs Union of India… in which the court had observed… that the petitioner had made a deliberate attempt to mislead the court… Even this court… had observed that the applicant had scant regards for the truth…”
Bhatt’s counsel BB Naik made a case of a “vitiated trial” during the hearing of this application at the HC. The order noted, “Whether the trial had vitiated or not on account of non-examination of some of the witnesses by the prosecution or on account of other lapses would be the issues to be considered at the time of final hearing of the appeal. At this juncture, the court, after having considered the evidence on record as well as the findings recorded by the sessions court, is prima facie satisfied about the conviction of the applicant under Section 302 of IPC, and in absence of any exceptional case made out by the applicant, the present application does not deserve any further consideration. The application for suspension of sentence, therefore, is dismissed.”
Along with Bhatt and Pravinsinh Zala, both of whom were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in June this year, five others were also convicted in the case that dates back to October 30, 1990.
Bhatt, then additional superintendent of police of Jamnagar district, and other police officers arrested 133 persons from Jamjodhpur town for allegedly indulging in rioting during a nationwide bandh by the BJP and VHP. The bandh call was in protest against BJP president LK Advani’s arrest during his rath yatra. Prabhudas (40) and his youngest brother Rameshchandra were among the arrested who were booked under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. Prabhudas was died allegedly due to custodial torture.