JAMNAGAR A court in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt to life imprisonment in a custodial death case dating back to 1990 when he was posted as additional superintendent of police in this district.
Bhatt, who earlier filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court against the role of then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots in the state, is currently behind bars in another case of falsely implicating a man for alleged possession of drugs.
He was suspended from the Indian Police Service in 2011 and sacked by the Ministry of Home Affairs in August 2015 for ‘unauthorised absence’ from service.
The Jamnagar-based court of sessions judge D N Vyas on Wednesday convicted Bhatt and police constable Pravinsinh Zala under Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) and sentenced them to life in jail in the 29-year-old custodial death case.
The court also convicted five other policemen – sub-inspectors Dipak Shah and Sailesh Pandya, and constables Pravinsih Jadeja, Anopsinh Jethva and Keshubha Jadeja – in the case and sentenced them to two years in prison.
On October 30, 1990, then additional superintendent of police Bhatt detained around 150 people following a communal riot in Jamjodhpur town after a ‘bandh’ call against the halting of veteran BJP leader L K Advani’s ‘rathyatra’ for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
One of those arrested, Prabhudas Vaishnani, died in a hospital after his release.
Vaishnani’s brother later lodged an FIR against Bhatt and six other police officials, accusing them of killing his sibling by torturing him in detention.
During the trial, prosecutor Tushar Gokani argued that Bhatt’s role in the “torture” of the victim was evident.
The case against Bhatt remained pending for years as the state government did not give its nod for prosecuting him at that time.
The government later gave permission for the prosecution of Bhatt and others in the case.
On September 5, 2018, Bhatt was arrested in connection with another 23-year-old case of falsely implicating a man for alleged possession of drugs. The case is under trial.