Ahmedabad: State government on Friday opposed the petition of suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt in the Gujarat High Court, which seeks relief in a two-decade-old criminal case against him.
Justice M R Shah, who heard Bhatt`s petition, asked the state to file reply by September 9. The petition accuses government of a bias and ulterior motives.
High Court, however, refused to give interim relief to Bhatt in the form of stay to proceedings in the 1990 case.
Bhatt, who took on the BJP government over its handling of 2002 communal riots in the state, has challenged the state government`s decision to withdraw its petition seeking
revision of a Jamnagar court`s order initiating criminal proceedings against him in the 1990 case.
In 1990, when Bhatt was posted there as Deputy SP, a person died allegedly due to police beating during a communal flare-up in Jamkhambhliya taluka of Jamnagar. A local court
initiated criminal proceedings against him and six others in this regard.
Earlier, state had filed petition in High Court seeking revision of lower court`s order, but recently, after Bhatt`s allegations in connection with 2002 riots, the revision petition was withdrawn.
Today, government pleader P K Jani contended that government`s earlier plea seeking revision of Khambhaliya court`s order never came up for hearing, hence it cannot be restored, as sought by Bhatt.
Jani denied that government withdrew the revision petition in bad faith.
Bhatt`s lawyer, advocate I H Syed, argued that the revision petition was filed way back in 1996, but withdrawn in July this year after it had been heard and written arguments
had been filed by the state government.
From 1990 to 2011, the government defended Bhatt against the lower court`s order, but today the same government had withdrawn revision plea, and was now pressing for a
non-bailable warrant against him, he said.
There ought to be some reasons for this U-turn, he said.
The High Court too asked the state government, what compelled it to withdraw its application after 15 years.
When the revision plea was withdrawn, government had justified it saying, that since the state is the prosecutor in every criminal case, it could not seek a revision of the trial court`s order in prosecution`s favour.
Bhatt`s petition alleges that state government was acting with bias against him because he had accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of misusing the state machinery during post-Godhra riots, in the affidavit before the Supreme Court.
State government was trying to put pressure on him for stopping him from deposing truthfully before any authority or court, it says.
Following Bhatt`s allegation with regard to handling of 2002 riots, he was suspended by the state government on August 8 for `misconduct`, unauthorised absence from duty, misuse of
official vehicle and not appearing before departmental inquiry panel.
During the hearing, the original complainant Amrutlal Vaishnani, brother of the victim of police beating, also opposed Bhatt`s petition, and filed an affidavit through his
lawyer Yatin Oza.
But Bhatt`s laywer pointed out that advocate Oza had appeared for the six other accused in the case, when they had challenged the FIR by moving the High Court in 1995.
This was likely to cause conflict of interest, he said.
The High Court, however, made no comment, or passed any order, on this point.