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SC declines Sanjeev Bhatt’s plea

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday declined to entertain a plea by suspended Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt seeking quashing of a state government order withdrawing a revision petition in an alleged case of custodial death way back in November 1990.

An apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice T.S. Thakur, however, permitted Bhatt to withdraw his petition with liberty to pursue an independent revision petition before the Gujarat High Court.

Appearing for Sanjiv Bhatt, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium assailed the high court order, saying it was factually incorrect.

He said the high court has recorded the matter relating to the cognizance of the case settled up to Supreme Court and the adjudicatory process was over.

While declining to entertain Bhatt’s plea, the court said if Subramanium felt the high court had erred in recording facts, then he could move it for their revision.

Subramanium pleaded to the court to record that Bhatt’s “revision (petition) on facts is not influenced by the (high court’s) observations on my plea challenging the withdrawal of revision petition (by the state)”.

At this, the court said that “you are an experienced counsel” and know that no court will decline plea pointing to errors in recording the facts.

On Oct 10, 1990, 133 people, including one Prabhu Das Vaishnavi, were arrested in the wake of communal flareup at Jamjodhpur. They were kept in police custody for a month before Vaishnavi was admitted in a hospital upon his release Nov 8, 1990. He died after 10 days in the hospital.

The matter was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) which submitted a closure report saying there was nothing against Bhatt and other police officers.

The post-mortem report also did not say anything against the police officers.

However, a local magistrate court did not accept the closure report and took cognizance of the case.

Against this order of the magistrate court, Gujarat government moved a revision petition which remained pending till July 6, 2011 when the state government withdrew it, thereby exposing Bhatt to face prosecution.

Bhatt has alleged that he was being targeted because he had accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 communal riots in the state. (IANS)

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