Palanpur Court Declares Sanjiv Bhatt Guilty In 1996 Drug Case - Vibes Of India

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Palanpur Court Declares Sanjiv Bhatt Guilty In 1996 Drug Case

| Updated: March 28, 2024 10:19

Earlier, Gujarat HC confirmed life sentence for Bhatt in case of custodial torture

In a significant development, a district court in Palanpur, Banaskantha, declared on Wednesday that former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was guilty in a 1996 narcotics case.

Earlier this month, the Gujarat High Court had confirmed a life sentence for Bhatt in a separate case of alleged custodial torture.

The details of the narcotics case are as follows. When Bhatt was SP of Banaskantha district in 1996, police inspector, Indravadan Vyas, allegedly acting on Bhatt’s instructions, raided a Palanpur hotel. After seizing 1.15 kg opium from a room, Vyas arrested a Rajasthan-based lawyer, Sumer Singh Rajpurohit.

In October 1996, Rajpurohit submitted a complaint before a magistrate, accusing Bhatt, Vyas, and several others of framing him by planting the opium in the room. Rajpurohit claimed that Bhatt had framed him at the behest of a former judge of the Gujarat High Court.

In relation to the Palanpur FIR, Vyas subsequently filed a report under CrPC Section 169 (for release of accused when evidence is deficient), admitting that the person occupying the hotel room was not Rajpurohit. Rajpurohit was discharged by the court.

In February 2000, police filed an ‘A-summary’ report (investigation suspended because of lack of evidence) in the Palanpur case. No final order was passed by the court on whether the report was accepted. In 1998, Justice R R Jain (retd), who had been named in Rajpurohit’s complaint, moved an application before Gujarat HC seeking transfer of the investigation in the 1996 Palanpur FIR from Gujarat Police to the CBI.

In April 2018, Gujarat HC ordered that the Palanpur FIR should be investigated by an SIT comprising Gujarat CID Crime officials.

Bhatt arrested in 2018

Bhatt was arrested in September 2018. The SIT investigation, headed by Virendrasinh Yadav (who is now Gandhinagar Range DIG), was completed, and a chargesheet was filed on November 2, 2018 before an NDPS court in Palanpur against Bhatt and Vyas for offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act).

On September 18, 2019, charges were framed against Bhatt and Vyas, but not against retired Justice Jain.

In March 2021, the NDPS court accepted Vyas’ application seeking pardon from the offences in exchange of turning approver. Bhatt challenged the NDPS court’s decision before the Gujarat HC, but the appeal was rejected in August 2021.

In October 2021, the HC partially allowed a plea by Bhatt seeking access to documents pertaining to the case so as to present in the trial. The court also directed the NDPS court to complete the trial in nine months.

In August 2023, the HC rejected two applications filed by Bhatt, seeking a transfer of the trial in this case to the Palanpur district court’s seniormost additional sessions judge, and quashing of a Palanpur court order of June, in which Bhatt’s request for a transfer and a stay on the trial was rejected.

The court termed Bhatt’s pleas as attempts to “scandalise and pressurise the court”.  Bhatt had accused the presiding trial judge in Palanpur of “bias” and submitted before the HC that he is “not receiving fair and impartial trial”. He had said that his request for adjournments were rejected, and on two occasions, costs were imposed.

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