Challenging the trial court’s order quashing his plea of producing 40 witnesses in a 1990 case of alleged custodial death in Jamnagar, former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Friday urged the High Court to look into his appeal, saying that though the prosecution had cited over 300 witnesses, only 32 of them were examined during the trial.
Appearing for Bhatt, lawyer BB Naik told the single judge bench of Justice Sonia Gokani that even among the 32 witnesses who were examined, contradictions have emerged in the accounts of five witnesses.
Naik also said that not a single investigating officer, who had recorded the statements of the witnesses, were examined during the trial.
Expressing surprise on it, Justice Gokani said, “At the end of any trial, deposition of an investigating officer is a must.”
The court reasoned that had the investigating officers deposed, contradictions in witness accounts could have been cross-checked.
Meanwhile, Justice Gokani sought the ‘A’ summary report that was filed at the time and the deposition accounts of the 32 witnesses who had been examined, from the prosecution. The case has been adjourned till Monday. The case dates back to 1990 when Bhatt was posted as the Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) in Jamnagar. He had detained around 150 persons during a communal riot in Jamjodhpur town. One of the detained persons Prabhudas Vaishnani died in a hospital after his release, allegedly due to torture.
A complaint of custodial death was registered against eight policemen, including Bhatt, by Amrutlal Vaishnani, the brother of the deceased.
Bhatt and other policemen were accused of beating up Prabhudas.