Bhatt’s bail plea hearing Friday, court rejects government plea


Ahmedabad: In a setback for Gujarat’s Narendra Modi government, a court here Wednesday began hearing the bail plea of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt but deferred it to Friday.

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Sessions judge V.K. Vyas deferred the case till 3 p.m. Friday as he was not available during Wednesday’s second session. Following this, Bhatt will have to spend two more days in custody.

At the beginning of Wednesday’s hearing, the court rejected the state government’s application pleading for Bhatt’s police remand and decided to hear the bail application.

Bhatt has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court pointing to Modi’s involvement in the 2002 Gujarat communal carnage. He was arrested Sep 30 for allegedly forcing a police constable, K.D. Panth, to sign a false affidavit about his attending a meeting called by Modi soon after the Godhra train burning that sparked the riots.

While the Gujarat government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the action was to “enforce discipline against an erring officer”, the Congress and civil rights groups have alleged that the action was part of a “political vendetta” by the government against officers who “stood up against the wrong actions” of the administration.

The government Wednesday opposed the hearing on the bail plea on the grounds that Bhatt’s revision remand application was pending in another court. The revision remand will come up Friday morning before the sessions judge hears the bail plea.

On Tuesday, Bhatt had refused a court suggestion to accept police remand for few hours before being granted bail, saying he would not compromise with “touts” in his battle of principles.

Sources said that a team of central intelligence officials are scheduled to visit Bhatt’s residence here Wednesday, following complaints of a security threat to his family.

The officer’s wife, Shweta Bhatt, had Oct 1 alleged police harassment of her family and expressed fears of a threat to her husband while in custody. On the same day, a local court had remanded Bhatt to judicial custody.

Shweta Bhatt also wrote to union Home Minister P. Chidambaram seeking his intervention against threats to Bhatt’s security while in custody. On Tuesday, the union home ministry ordered the Gujarat govenment to ensure Bhatt’s security.