Dismissing a bunch of petitions by former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, an annoyed Supreme Court on Tuesday imposed a fine of Rs 3 lakh on him for filing them. The former cop had alleged bias on the part of the trial judge hearing a case in which he is accused of planting drugs to falsely implicate a Rajasthan-based lawyer.
A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh for each petition, and asked him to deposit it with the Gujarat High Court Advocates Welfare Fund.
Bhatt’s petitions challenged Gujarat High Court’s orders dismissing his prayers to transfer the trial to another court, to audio and video record trial court proceedings and seeking permission to summon 19 witnesses.
The bench was annoyed that Bhat was repeatedly approaching the court. “How many times have you been to the Supreme Court? At least a dozen times?” asked Justice Nath.
The bench recalled that the Supreme Court in February 2023 imposed Rs 10,000 on him while dismissing his plea challenging a Gujarat High Court order that fixed a deadline of March 31, 2023, for completing the trial in the drugs planting case.
Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, who appeared for Bhatt, denied that his client was trying to delay the trial.
He submitted that one of the petitions was for the summoning of witnesses cited by the prosecution but later dropped. Kamat contended that they were dropped as they were inconvenient for the prosecution. The senior counsel wondered how it could be termed vexatious if he wanted to examine these witnesses.
The alleged incident dates back to 1996, when Bhatt was the superintendent of police in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district.