Hearing today on review plea filed by police seeking the IPS officer's remand
Even as the trial court fixed Tuesday for hearing both the revision petition filed by the police seeking remand of the arrested IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, and the bail plea of the officer, civil society and voluntary organisations staged demonstrations here on Monday to protest against the arrest.
Upset at the trial court rejecting its demand for seven days' police remand of Mr. Bhatt, the police filed a revision petition to press for his remand. Mr. Bhatt's advocate filed an application for bail claiming that the charges filed against Mr. Bhatt did not require his presence in the police custody. The court issued notice to the State government on Mr Bhatt's bail application.
Both the applications would be heard on Tuesday one after another, but in different courts. Legal sources said his bail application could be taken up only after the court decided on the revision petition of the remand.
Faced with strong criticism both within the State and outside for arresting Mr. Bhatt, Director-General of Police Chittaranjan Singh and Ahmedabad City Police Commissioner Sudhir Sinha, in a press conference, claimed that the police were “not acting under any pressure” and the entire process preceding and following his arrest was being conducted “as per law.”
Constable K. D. Panth, whose complaint led to Mr. Bhatt's arrest, and who remained out of contact for sometime, on Monday, gave an interview to a local television channel. He claimed that he was not “under any pressure to file the complaint” and that he had “full faith in the judicial process.”
Mr. Singh and Mr. Sinha claimed that the police had “very deeply” investigated into Mr. Panth's complaint made in June before acting against the suspended IPS officer. They claimed that Mr. Bhatt was issued summons four times to appear before the investigating officer, but he did not turn up. On the fourth time, the police were told that Mr. Bhatt was appearing before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial inquiry commission, but when he could not be traced there also, the police had to go to his house and record his statement before placing him under arrest. Mr. Singh said since Mr. Panth's complaint also referred to Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia, the police could issue him summons for questioning. However, strongly reacting to the suggestion, Mr. Modhvadia said if the Modi government made any attempt to “involve him in a false case” he would “show him what is law.”
Gujarat government spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said in Gandhinagar that the State government had “no connection” with Mr. Bhatt's arrest which was made by the police as per the Criminal Procedure Code on an “individual complaint.” But the issue, he claimed, had “exposed” the Congress and the “anti-Narendra Modi NGOs” considering the way they were making “day and night operations to malign the State government.”
Claiming that the “law is taking its own course” in the case of Mr. Bhatt, Mr. Vyas reacted sharply to Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi calling Mr Modi a “dictator” and reminded him of the post-1975 Emergency days when the then Congress Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had shown the country what “dictatorship” was. The Health Minister said Mr. Bhatt was facing several criminal charges and most of the cases were related to the period before Mr. Modi took over in 2001. “Linking everything to the present incumbent only exposed the Congress in its wrong acts to malign the State government.” Mr. Bhatt's wife, Shweta Bhatt, who earlier wrote letters to the State DGP and the Police Commissioner expressing concern at her husband's safety, on Monday dashed off a letter to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram seeking his assistance to ensure her husband's safety in the police custody. She also accused the City Police Commissioner of deliberately harassing her and other family members and treating Mr. Bhatt badly in the custody.
Meanwhile, support for Mr. Bhatt has been pouring in from all quarters and the civil society members in particular, who staged a demonstration at Sardarbaug in Ahmedabad.