Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar today put up a solid defence for the then Gujarat government trashing the claim of sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt that he was present at a meeting to discuss law and order situation during the 2002 communal violence at residence of the then Chief Minister.
The SG also stiffly opposed the constitution of an SIT to probe lodging of FIRs against Bhatt as demanded by him
“The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had come to the conclusion that the petitioner (Bhatt) was not present at all in the February 27 meeting”, Kumar, appearing for the state, told the court which reserved its verdict on the pleas of the dismissed IPS officer.
Senior advocate L Nageshwar Rao, appearing for then Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta “who has been accused of trying to save several accused by handing over copies of the confidential SIT report”, alleged that Bhatt was trying to revive whatever happened since 2002. “The SC-appointed SIT probed nine cases, convictions have taken place in some and appeals have also been filed against them”, he said.
“The attempt is to revive what happened since 2002 and has been settled. They have nothing to say blameworthy and unethical on the part of Tushar Mehta and he cannot be blamed for impeding the end of justice”, he said
Bhatt had recently filed two interim applications seeking a SIT probe into allegation of misuse of state machinery during 2002 post-Godhra riots and the alleged roles of top BJP and RSS functionaries and some senior bureaucrats.
The counsel for the state referred to the contents of various communications of Bhatt, then Deputy Commissioner (Security), and told the bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra that the officer was in constant touch with Congress leader and the then Leader of Opposition in Gujarat assembly and some top journalists.
An unsolicited affidavit was tendered in the Supreme Court and that was an attempt to mislead the court, he said, alleging that Bhatt had showed an affidavit to a journalist who advised additions which were incorporated as well. The SG, assisted by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, alleged that Bhatt was in constant touch with certain Congress party leaders, activist Teesta Setalwad and top media professionals.
Earlier during the day, senior advocate Indira Jaising and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Bhatt, alleged collusion among top state government functionaries, the then Additional Advocate General, the then minister of state for home and some lawyers for the accused and sought court- monitored SIT probe into Bhatt's claims. Jaising said that a SIT probe, instead of seeking CBI investigation, was needed to inquire into the collusion of the highest order as the then Chief Minister is now the Prime Minister and the then AAG is now the Additional Solicitor General of India.
The court is hearing Bhatt’s plea seeking SIT probe into allegation of misuse of state machinery during 2002 post-Godhra riots and the alleged roles of top BJP and RSS functionaries and some senior bureaucrats.
After keeping him under suspension for nearly five years, Bhatt was sacked on August 18.
Bhatt had moved the SC four year ago accusing the then Modi government of attempting to blunt his untiring efforts to expose the state’s role in fanning the riots by lodging an inspired FIR against him in 2011 accusing him of forcing a government servant to give false evidence to establish his presence during a high-level meeting called by the then CM to discuss the riots.
Bhatt moved the fresh application requesting the SC to add BJP president Amit Shah and S Gurumurthy as parties in his petition as they were “part of the larger design to subvert the course of justice”, both before the SC and the trial court in the riot cases.
The SC-appointed SIT headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan had given a clean chit to Modi after investigating similar charges made by Jakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed by rioters.
Bhatt claims he filed the application seeking impleadment of Shah, Gurumurthy and two Gujarat government officials – G C Murmu who was then principal secretary to Modi and then state home ministry official Vijay Badekha – in his petition after stumbling upon “incriminating material” in the emails of then additional advocate general and present additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta which showed that they were part of a conspiracy to subvert the course of justice in riot cases.
The IPS officer had filed petitions in the apex court in 2011 against the lodging of FIRs against him by the Gujarat Police. One of the petitions pertains to an FIR lodged by a Gujarat police constable in Ahmedabad alleging that Bhatt had pressurised him to sign an affidavit testifying that the IPS officer participated in a high-level meeting after the Godhra carnage.
In another FIR, he has been accused of allegedly hacking then state’s Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta’s e-mail account. Mehta is currently the Additional Solicitor General of India.