A local court in Ahmedabad on Wednesday remanded former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in police custody till July 20 in the forgery and evidence fabrication case related to the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
Mr. Bhatt was arrested through transfer warrant on Tuesday and produced before the additional chief metropolitan magistrate on Wednesday.
The police sought 14-day remand of Mr. Bhatt to find out the alleged conspiracy he and two other accused, social activist Teesta Setalvad and former DGP R.B. Sreekumar, hatched to target top functionaries, including the then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.
In the remand application, the investigating officer stated that a 14-day custody was required to question Mr. Bhatt about his intention behind making false claims about attending a late-night meeting on February 27, 2002, allegedly called by Mr. Modi at his residence after the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 karsevaks had died.
The investigating officer also told the court that the police wanted to question Mr. Bhatt regarding when he came in touch with the other two accused, namely Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar, and how and where they prepared “false documents as part of a criminal conspiracy to frame innocent people”.
Advocate Anand Yagnik, appearing for Mr. Bhatt, submitted that the Supreme Court-appointed SIT had already probed the role of Mr. Bhatt and now no further probe was required after a period of eight to 10 years.
He also submitted that the Supreme Court observations in the judgment delivered on June 24, 2022, were not directives and binding on the police to lodge criminal proceedings against Mr. Bhatt.
In another submission, Mr. Yagnik told the court that the accused could not be forced or compelled to give evidence against himself in any proceedings.
On Tuesday late evening, the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was formed to probe the case of forgery and fabrication of evidence in connection with the 2002 riots, arrested dismissed IPS officer Mr. Bhatt, making the third arrest after Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar, also a former IPS officer.
The SIT is probing the alleged fabrication of evidence of conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat riots to falsely implicate certain persons, including Mr. Modi.
The SIT has brought Mr. Bhatt from the Palanpur jail where he is serving a life term in a custodial death case in Jamnagar district. He was lodged in a Palanpur jail on charges of planting drugs on a lawyer in 1996.
As per the sources, the SIT obtained a transfer warrant from the Metropolitan Court and brought him to Ahmedabad late on Tuesday night.
The police have accused Mr. Bhatt of forging documents, including the wireless alert message that he had produced before the Godhra inquiry commission and later before the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar are in judicial custody and have applied for bail.
The FIR lodged by the police inspector of Ahmedabad detection of Crime Branch invoked Sections 468, 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The 10-page FIR provides details of alleged forgery and cites observations from the Supreme Court verdict delivered on June 24.
The arrest of Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar came on June 25, a day after the top court upheld the clean chit given to Mr. Modi and others in the 2002 riots case. The court endorsed the report of the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which had filed a closure report against Mr. Modi and others.
The top court dismissed the allegations of “larger conspiracy” behind the communal riots in 2002 while rejecting the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, who was killed along with 69 others in the Gulbarg Society massacre in Ahmedabad in 2002.
Ms. Setalvad and her NGO, Citizens Justice and Peace (CJP), were co-petitioners with Ms. Jafri in the petition filed against the then Chief Minister Modi and others in the Supreme Court, alleging “larger conspiracy” during the 2002 communal riots in which more than 1,000 people were killed across the State.