Ex-IPS Sanjiv Bhatt Sentenced to Life in Custodial Death Case

Along with Sanjiv Bhatt another cop, Pravinsinh Jhala, was also sentenced to life in prison by the Jamnagar court.

2 min read
Sanjiv Bhatt was dismissed from the service in 2015.

Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was sentenced to life in prison by a local court in Jamnagar district on Thursday, 20 June, after he was convicted in a 30-year-old custodial death case.

Bhatt was suspended in 2011 on charges of remaining absent from duty without permission and misuse of official vehicles and later sacked in August, 2015. Bhatt has been courting controversy for nearly two decades and was in spotlight for testifying against the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat Riots.

The Jamnagar-based court of sessions judge DN Vyas on Wednesday, 19 June convicted Bhatt and police constable Pravinsinh Zala under the Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) and sentenced them to life in jail in the 29-year-old custodial death case.

The court also convicted five other policemen – sub-inspectors Dipak Shah and Sailesh Pandya, and constables Pravinsih Jadeja, Anopsinh Jethva and Keshubha Jadeja – in the case and sentenced them to two years in prison.

Incidentally, Bhatt is behind bars in Palanpur Sub-Jail since September 2018 for allegedly framing a lawyer for possession of drugs, when he was posted in Banaskantha district as the Superintendent of Police.

Background of the Case

In October 1990, Bhatt had arrested 133 people on charges of rioting in the backdrop of BJP leader LK Advani’s Rath Yatra in Jamnagar. One of the arrested men, Prabhudas Vaishnani, was thrashed in custody who later succumbed to his injuries.

The victim’s brother Amrit Vaishnani lodged a complaint against Bhatt and five other policemen and the court proceedings started in 2016; one of the cops – Pravinsinh Jhala – was also sentenced to life-term imprisonment by the Jamnagar court.

Last week on 12 June the Supreme Court declined to consider a plea by Sanjiv Bhatt, seeking fresh examination of witnesses in a case of custodial death against him. Bhatt moved the apex court challenging a Gujarat High Court order, which declined his request to summon certain additional witnesses for examination during the trial in the case.

The Gujarat government informed the apex court that the trial court has already reserved judgment in the 30-year-old custodial death case for 20 June.

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