‘Question is whether the (alleged) statement by the CM is an offence’

The SIT has pointed out that Bhatt has tried to tutor witnesses to support his version

Published: May 8, 2012 2:10:14 am

From the report of Raju Ramchandran,amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court,who disagrees with key findings of the SIT and believes a case can be made out against Narendra Modi over the Gujarat riots

A Special Investigating Team appointed by the Supreme Court in the Gujarat riots case had dismissed a statement by Sanjiv Bhatt,former Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence). Bhatt had alleged that Chief Minister Narendra Modi,at a meeting on February 27,2002,had instructed that Hindus be permitted to vent their anger.

It is on Bhatt’s statement that amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran has based his argument that a case can be built against Modi. Ramchandran’s final report,which stresses that Bhatt’s statement should not be rejected at this stage,is now up on the website of the Citizens for Justice and Peace. Excerpts:

Bhatt’s statement

The SIT has concluded that [Bhatt’s version is not believable for… (a) the other senior officers present at the meeting have not supported his statement,(b) his silence for more than nine years without any explanation appears suspicious,(c) a number of departmental and criminal proceedings have been instituted by the government and hence Bhatt has an axe to grind. The SIT also points out discrepancies in Bhatt’s versions about the language said to have been used by the chief minister. The SIT discredits Bhatt by pointing out that his version about a subsequent meeting at the chief minister’s residence on February 28,at about 10:30am,cannot be believed because his mobile records show that he was at Ahmedabad at 10:57am and therefore could not have reached Gandhinagar before 11:30am.

***

The SIT has pointed out that Bhatt has tried to tutor witnesses (Tarachand Yadav and K D Panth) to support his version. The government has stated [in a letter to the SIT that it has “retrieved” several emails of Bhatt. According to the government,“It leaves no room for doubt that it is a systematic and larger conspiracy,through Sanjiv Bhatt,involving top leaders of Congress in Gujarat,vested interest groups surviving on anti-Gujarat campaign and media reporters,all of whom have started final efforts to keep the Godhra riot issue live based on concocted facts and Sanjiv Bhatt,through all of them,is trying to build up a story…”

***

I am conscious that Bhatt’s statement has not been that of a detached police officer who is content with giving his version. I am left with no doubt that he is actively “strategising”,and is in touch with those who would benefit or gain mileage. But these factors,in my view,cannot be grounds for ignoring his statement at this stage.

***

It does not appear very likely that a serving police officer would make such a serious allegation against the chief minister without some basis. There is no documentary material which can establish that Bhatt was not present in the meeting on February 27. There is no documentary material as to the participants and what transpired at the meeting. Therefore,it is the word of Bhatt against the word of other officers,senior to him. The SIT has chosen to believe the word of the senior officers. However,I find that the SIT itself,in its preliminary report,has observed:

* “Some of the public servants,who retired long back,claimed loss of memory as they did not want to get involved in controversy.”

* “Other public servants,who have recently retired and [been provided with good post-retirement assignments,felt obliged to the government and the chief minister and their testimony lacks credibility.”

* “Serving public servants,who have been empanelled for higher posts,did not want to come into conflict with the politicians in power…”

***

It seems quite natural for an officer from intelligence to be called [to the meeting. G C Raiger,ADGP (Intelligence),was on leave. P C Upadhyay,DC (Political and Communal),was also on leave and Bhatt was looking after [his work. Call records do not contradict the statement by Bhatt.

It is anybody’ guess as to why,in the absence of Raiger,O P Mathur,IGP (Security & Administration),who was next in seniority,was not called. This aspect,in my view,is of little significance in the context…. Discrepancies about the language used or the time of the [February 28 meeting are inevitable,considering the lapse of time. (There is no material to suggest that Bhatt was at some place other than Gandhinagar at any time after 10:57am on February 28.) Hence,I disagree with the conclusion of the SIT that Bhatt should be disbelieved at this stage itself. I am of the view that Bhatt needs to be put through cross-examination,as do the others who deny his presence.

Modi

[A question which arises is that,if the statement of Bhatt is to be believed,then what offence(s) are made out against Modi. The direct role of Modi is limited to allegedly making this statement. Though it is alleged that Modi positioned two of his cabinet colleagues at the state police control room and the Ahmedabad City Police control room,the SIT has come to the conclusion that the ministers did not interfere with the functioning of the police. However,there is the possibility that the very presence of these ministers had a dampening effect on senior police officials… if indeed Modi had made a statement (as alleged).

The chairman,SIT,in his earlier comments (May 14,2010) found:

“It has been conclusively established that the two ministers were indeed operating from the two control rooms for a few days from February 28. There is however no information to establish that they interfered with police operations… Nor is there information that this arrangement was at the instance of the chief minister himself,although there is every likelihood that this had at least his tacit approval. There is an absence of material to indicate that the statement of Modi,allegedly made in the meeting,had been actively implemented by the ministers or the two police officials who participated in the said meeting.”

The question to be examined is whether the making of the statement by the Chief Minister in the meeting on February 27,2002,by itself,is an offence under law. In my opinion,the offences which can be made out against Modi,at this prima facie stage,are offences inter alia under Sections 153A (1) (a) & (b),153B (1) (c),166 and 505 (2) of the IPC. However,it would be for the court of competent jurisdiction to decide.

cjponline.org

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement