Jamnagar District and Sessions Court found former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and Pravinsinh Zala, another police officer, guilty of a murder in a 1990 custodial death case and sentenced them to life imprisonment on Thursday.
“The court found Pravinsinh Zala and Sanjiv Bhatt guilty under IPC section 302 and thus sentenced them to life imprisonment under IPC section 302. Rest of the accused were found guilty under section 323, 506 for custodial torture,” said Tushar Gokani and Madhu Mehta, special public prosecutors in the case.
The verdict was given out by judge DM Vyas, and quantum of punishment is awaited for the rest of the five accused.
The case dates back to 1990 when Bhatt was posted as the additional superintendent of police in Jamnagar. He had detained around 150 people during a communal riot in Jamjodhpur town, at the time of a rath yatra, being carried out by LK Advani. One of the detained persons, Prabhudas Vaishnani, had died in a hospital after he was released, allegedly due to torture. A complaint of custodial death was registered against eight policemen, including Bhatt, by Amrutlal Vaishnani, the brother of the deceased.
Justice Sonia Gokani of Gujarat High Court, in April, had ordered for a speedy trial in the special criminal application filed by the brother of the deceased, instructing that hearings be conducted in the matter on a day-to-day basis.
Bhatt, a 1988-batch IPS officer, is currently in judicial custody in a 22-year old drug planting case of Banaskantha, in a Palanpur jail.