Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who was suspended earlier this month apparently for refusing to toe the State government line, is facing a bailable arrest warrant issued by the Jamnagar sessions court in a 21-year-old case.
The warrant was issued by additional sessions judge N.T. Solanki because he failed to appear before the court on Tuesday for the hearing of the 1990 case which was earlier sought to be closed by the State government but re-opened after he filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court this year, levelling serious charges against Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The case pertains to a communal conflagration in Jamjodhpur taluk on October 30, 1990, following which 133 persons were arrested by the police under Mr. Bhatt, who was then district deputy superintendent. One of them, Prabhudas Vaishnani, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad activist, died 11 days after he was released from police custody. His brother Amrutlal Vaishnani filed a police complaint against Mr. Bhatt and some other policemen for the alleged custodial death.
The case was investigated by the State CID (crime), which in 1992 sought sanction from the State government under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code to prosecute Mr. Bhatt and others. The government, however, in 1995 submitted before the court that Mr. Bhatt and other police officials had “acted in good faith” and asked the CID (crime) to file a closure report.
But the court did not accept the State's submission and asked the government to initiate prosecution against him and others. The government filed a revision petition in 1996. It, however, was withdrawn by the government the day Mr. Bhatt filed the affidavit in the Supreme Court re-opening the 1990 case for trial by the sessions court.
Mr. Bhatt said he could not attend the hearing in Jamnagar on Tuesday because he was busy filing a petition in the Gujarat High Court challenging the government's decision to withdraw the revision petition, for which the sessions court promptly issued the bailable warrant against him.