The CID-Crime, which is investigating the 1996 case of the alleged framing of a lawyer for possession of drugs, has claimed that former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who was then Superintendent of Police of Banaskantha district, gave Rs 20,000 to a policeman to buy opium from a particular place to ascertain his information. Once the sample of more than 1 kg was bought by the policeman as instructed, the same was used in framing the Rajasthan-based lawyer in Palanpur, the CID-Crime has stated in its 550-page chargesheet.
Bhatt was arrested on September 5 this year for allegedly framing Sumer Singh Rajpurohit, a lawyer from Rajasthan, in a false narcotics case by planting drugs at a Palanpur hotel room in Banaskantha in 1996 as part of a “well-planned conspiracy” to get a property vacated in Rajasthan. The then inspector of Banaskantha Crime Branch, Indravadan Vyas, was also arrested. The case with a long history and multiple litigations also involves a former judge of the Gujarat High Court as Rajpurohit had claimed that he was framed in the case by Bhatt at the behest of former sitting judge of High Court R R Jain over a rented property in Pali (Rajasthan) which he had rented.
The CID, which was asked to probe the 22-year-old case by the High Court, had submitted the chargesheet to a Palanpur court last month.
According to the chargesheet, Bhatt had given money to constable Malabhai Rabari and instructed him to buy the contraband from Sherpura in Deesa tehsil of Banaskantha district. On April 29, 1996, Rabari got the opium in a violet colour bag which was kept in the cupboard of Local Crime Branch police (LCB) Inspector Indravadan Vyas. The chargesheet alleged that a day later, the same bag was placed in room number 305 of Lajwanti city hotel in Palanpur where a “fake” raid was conducted under the supervision of Vyas, who was heading the LCB, and based on which Rajput was arrested.
A day later, May 1, the chargesheet said, the LCB team raided Sherapura and registered four cases under narcotics Act and “recovered 35.620 gram of opium”. The contraband was recovered in bags containing 1 kg to 2 kg of opium. The chargesheet claimed that the opium planted at the Lajwanti hotel and the ones seized in the raid were of same category.
The CID has stated that it arrived at the conclusion based on the statements given by two witnesses, Pravinchandra and Raman Parshottambhai, and forensic reports.
The chargesheet also stated that Bhatt initially asked then Palanpur city Inspector — Gohil and Sub-Inspector (LCB) Parthibhai Chaudhary to book Rajpurohit in a fake narcotics case but they reportedly refused to do so. The chargesheet claimed that two witnesses — Chaudhary and his colleague Ashok Patel — have testified it.
According to the chargesheet, when the police “detected” opium from the hotel room, Rajpurohit had not even checked in. His signature was forged and on May 2, Bhatt told co-accused Indravadan Vyas to arrest Rajpurohit from Pali in Rajasthan. Vyas went to Pali and brought Rajpurohit. The chargesheet stated that there were serious lapses in those actions as no permission was sought from the government to visit other state as required.
“On 2/5/96 midnight, accused Indravadan Vyas went to the house of Sumer Singh Rajpurohit and arrested him despite not having enough evidence… “On 3/5/96 despite not having enough evidence to arrest Rajpurohit, as part of criminal conspiracy hatched by main accused Sanjiv Bhatt, at 12:30 AM. And, accused Sanjiv Bhatt called Rajput in his own chamber and threatened him to vacate the shop number-6 or else the other 4 kg of opium will be shown as recovered from him…,” the chargesheet stated.
As per the CID’s chargsheet, there are over 30 witnesses, including policemen who have recorded their statements against Bhatt, Vyas and Malabhai Rabari’s role.
Rabari has been abated in the case after he died last year. Bhatt and Vyas are under judicial custody. Bhat has sought bail from Palanpur court.
Bhatt had several run-ins with the BJP government in the past over the issue of the 2002 post-Godhra riots. In 2011, he had hit the headlines after he filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that he had attended a meeting on February 27, 2002 night held at then chief minister Narendra Modi’s residence in the wake of Sabarmati Express train carnage at Godhra railway station. Bhatt had claimed in the affidavit that he had heard Modi saying “let the Hindus vent their anger”. However, his claim was disbelieved by the Supreme Court appointed-Special Investigation Team.
Clarifications & corrections
An earlier version of the report had inadvertently mentioned that Bhatt, a 1988 batch IPS officer, was dismissed from service in 2015 after the release of a sex video purportedly featuring him. Bhatt was not dismissed on this ground. Bhatt was dismissed on 11 charges. These included: “staying absent from duty unauthorisedly, defying orders of superior officer (DG & IGP), taking custody of log book from lawfully authorised government servants, retaining official vehicle belonging to other officers unauthorisedly, retaining custody of government assets unauthorizedly, misbehaving with government servants…”.
The error is deeply regretted.