The Supreme Court on Friday sought the Gujarat government’s response to a plea by IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who had accused Chief Minister Narendra Modi of misusing state machinery against Muslims during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, for transferring a criminal case against him outside the State.
The plea pertained to an FIR lodged by a Gujarat State police constable in Ahmedabad alleging that Mr. Bhatt had pressurised him to sign an affidavit testifying that the officer participated in a high-level meeting after the Godhra carnage in which Mr. Bhatt had alleged he witnessed the Chief Minister’s anti-Muslim bias.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha asked the Gujarat government and the Centre to file their replies on Mr. Bhatt’s plea by August 8, the next date of hearing.
In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, Mr. Bhatt had alleged that he had attended a crucial meeting convened by Chief Minister on February 27, 2002 after the Godhra incident, in which Mr. Modi had instructed senior government officials to allow Hindus to “vent out their anger” during the clashes and wanted Muslims to be “taught a lesson”.
The Supreme Court, however, had declined to take Mr. Bhatt’s affidavit on record.
Gujarat State police constable K.D. Pant had later filed a complaint against Mr. Bhatt accusing him threatening him and making him sign a false affidavit regarding the officer’s participation in the crucial meeting convened by Mr. Modi.
The registration of the case against Mr. Bhatt came as questions were raised by State government officials that Mr. Bhatt was still a superintendent-rank police officer and was not senior enough to attend the high level meeting attended by top government officials.
Following the complaint by Mr. Pant, who had worked under Mr. Bhatt during the 2002 riots, the Ghatlodia police in Gujarat had registered an FIR against the officer on charges of threatening a public servant, fabricating false evidence and wrongful confinement.
Mr. Bhatt, in his affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, had alleged complicity of Mr. Modi in post-Godhra riots and had also stated that Mr. Pant, who knew about the Chief Minister’s meeting, was threatened with dire consequences and arrest by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing some of the 2002 riot cases on the directions of the Supreme Court.
He had further alleged Mr. Pant was virtually treated like an accused by the SIT during his questioning on April 5, 2011.