NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will not interfere in the ongoing investigation, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said while dismissing a plea challenging the arrest of former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a 22-year-old case. He could approach an “appropriate forum” for relief, the bench added.
The petition filed by Mr Bhatt’s wife Shweta alleged that he was not being allowed to meet his lawyers or sign any document needed to approach the court for relief. Sanjiv Bhatt was arrested on September 5. His wife put out Facebook posts demanding justice for her husband.
“It is a serious allegation if true. The state must give its response,” the Supreme Court had said.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Gujarat government, said his arrest was in accordance with law and he was produced before the magistrate in Gujarat’s Palanpur within 24 hours seeking his police custody.
He said that Shweta Bhatt’s allegations that her husband was not allowed to sign the vakalatnama are factually wrong.
Mr Rohatgi told the court that Sanjiv Bhatt’s counsel had appeared before the magistrate against his police remand on September 6. He added that between September 6 and 12, his lawyers — Shirishbhai Modi and SB Thakore — had met Mr Bhatt in jail.
The government in its affidavit said that even his relatives have met him and he was represented by a lawyer of his choice in the high court.
Mr Bhatt and seven others, including former policemen attached with the Banaskantha Police, were initially detained for questioning in the case. Mr Bhatt was the Banaskantha district superintendent of police in 1996.
According to the police, the Banaskantha Police led by Mr Bhatt had arrested an advocate, Sumersingh Rajpurohit, in 1996 on charges of possession of drugs.
The Banaskantha Police had claimed that drugs were found in Mr Rajpurohit’s hotel room in the district’s Palanpur town.
However, an investigation by the Rajasthan Police had concluded that Mr Rajpurohit was falsely implicated to force him to transfer a disputed property. It had also claimed that Mr Rajpurohit was allegedly abducted by the Banaskantha Police from his residence at Pali in Rajasthan.
A former police inspector of Banaskantha had approached the Gujarat High Court in 1999 demanding a thorough probe in the case.
In June, the high court gave the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) three months to finish the investigation.
Sanjiv Bhatt, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, has been a vocal critic of the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was dismissed from service in 2015 on grounds of “unauthorised absence”.
His wife unsuccessfully contested the assembly election as a Congress party candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Maninagar constituency in Ahmedabad in 2012.