The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere in the police probe and judicial custody of former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a 22-year-old case in which he has been accused of planting drugs on a lawyer.
Rejecting a petition by Bhatt’s wife Shweta Bhatt, a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said that it was not inclined to interfere with the High Court order handing over the investigation to state CID. However, the apex court said that Bhatt could approach the appropriate forum for relief.
Shweta Bhatt had earlier alleged that her husband, who was in custody, was not being allowed to execute any document to enable him to approach the Supreme Court. The apex court had on September 24 sought the Gujarat government’s reply.
Appearing for the state government, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said that Bhatt was arrested on September 5 in accordance with the law and produced before the jurisdictional magistrate at Palanpur within 24 hours.
Contradicting the contention that Bhatt was not allowed to sign vakalatnama, Rohatgi said the claim was wrong and contrary to records. He said that Bhatt’s counsel had appeared before the magistrate to oppose the plea for police remand and it was recorded in the court’s order. He said two lawyers had met Bhatt when he was in judicial custody between September 6 and September 12.
Bhatt’s relatives also met him in jail and the accused was represented by an advocate of his choice in the High Court, the state government said in its affidavit.
“The facts clearly show that the accused, the petitioner’s husband, at no point of time was prevented in any manner from either meeting his lawyers or signing vakalatnama and/or any other documents or from meeting anyone,” the affidavit said.
The Gujarat High Court recently ordered an SIT of the CID to probe the case. Rajasthan-based lawyer Sumersingh Rajpurohit had in 1996 filed the case against then Banaskantha SP Bhatt, and several others, including former Gujarat HC judge Justice Jain and Bhatt’s subordinate officers.
In his complaint, Rajpurohit alleged that he was abducted and falsely implicated under the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act to force his family to vacate a rented property owned by Justice Jain’s sister in Pali. He was arrested after Banaskantha police reportedly found over 1 kg of opium at a hotel in Palanpur.
Rajpurohit claimed he never occupied the hotel room and was in Pali at the time of the purported police raid. He also alleged that he was abducted and brought to Palanpur and pressured by Bhatt and his subordinates to vacate the premises by threatening him with arrest under the NDPS Act. A probe by Rajasthan Police concluded that Rajpurohit was allegedly falsely implicated. Former Banaskantha inspector I B Vyas moved the Gujarat HC in 1999 seeking an inquiry into the matter.
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