The Supreme Court on Tuesday upbraided sacked Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for giving a “tutored” statement to a court-appointed special investigation team probing the 2002 post-Godhra riots and attempting to implicate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the case.
A two-judge bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Arun Misra said Bhatt acted in “deliberation and consultation with” the leaders of the opposition political party, NGO activists and mediapersons to furnish false evidence to prove he was present at the February 27, 2002, meeting chaired by Modi, who was then Gujarat chief minister.
“Exchange of e-mails which are self-explanatory indicates that the petitioner was in active touch with leaders of rival political party, NGOs; their lawyers tried to play media card and he was being tutored by NGOs,” the bench said, without naming any political party. The Congress was in opposition in Gujarat then.
Questioning Bhatt for making allegations against the state nine years after the alleged incident, the top court chided him for approaching it with “unclean hands”.
The bench said evidence placed before the court by the Gujarat government revealed Bhatt was making attempts to know who were present at the meeting, thereby suggesting that the IPS officer didn’t attend it.
The court’s scathing remarks against Bhatt came while it dismissed his petition for a court-monitored SIT probe into the two cases lodged against him by Gujarat police — one for allegedly coercing his junior officer KD Panth to submit an affidavit against then chief minister Modi before the court’s probe panel into the Godhra riots and the other for allegedly hacking the account of the state’s then additional advocate general Tushar Mehta, now an additional solicitor general. The court ordered expeditious trial in the two cases.
The court refused to initiate contempt proceedings against BJP chief Amit Shah, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy and Mehta, holding that Bhatt made unsubstantiated allegations against them of interfering with police probe in his cases.
Bhatt had accused SIT of leaking information to Mehta. However, the SC said: “Petitioner had exchanged yet another email with another activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan in which he has mentioned to create a situation so as to make it difficult for a three-judge bench of this court to disregard the shortcomings of SIT and exerting pressure by the groups and opinion-makers in Delhi.”