Gujarat High Court orders Nanavati Mehta Commission to let the Intelligence Reports of the 2002 riots be examined

Gujarat High Court orders Nanavati Mehta Commission to let the Intelligence Reports of the 2002 riots be examined

A division bench of the High Court of Gujarat has directed the Nanavati Mehta Commission, probing the 2002 riots, to grant permission to suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt to inspect certain intelligence reports generated during the 2002 Godhra riots.The bench consisting of the Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala, petitioned by NGO, People’s Union of Civil Liberties and Sanjiv Bhatt ordered the commission to allow the suspended IPS officer to examine the documents by Friday and has kept the matter for further hearing on June 26.

Sanjiv Bhatt, controversial Gujarat top cop who is under suspension had written several letters to the Commission, as well as the Government seeking the intelligence reports generated during the riots. After the state government’s refusal, Bhatt and PUCL had approached the High Court through a PIL seeking 42 types of documents. The court had directed the government to release the documents.

Bhatt had attempted to obtain documents as evidence from the police and the State Intelligence Bureau, as well as from the SIT hearing since early 2011.  He again requested this information in December 2011, claiming that it was needed in order that it could be placed on the official record. These requests for information failed, and Bhatt alleged that this was because the Modi government opposed them because it was involved in a "cover up”. The Commission has consistently refused to demand production of the documents, despite Bhatt's belief that it has the legal powers to do so. Last year, Bhatt again filed a civil application in the court stating that nine documents were not given to him. The state had argued that these documents are classified and they can’t be shared. They also said that some other documents have gone missing. The court ruled in Bhatt’s favour and asked the state government to let Bhatt inspect the classified documents.

Bhatt, who is under suspension, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court against former Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister, alleging that Modi told senior officers to “let Hindus vent out their anger” following the Godhra train burning incident that led to riots in the state. A former BBC journalist, ShubhranshuChoudhary, filed an affidavit in November 2011 that supported the claim that Bhatt was at the 2002 meeting.

Senior Counsel Anand Yagnik had appeared on behalf of Mr Bhatt. Bhatt was also named in at least three other legal cases, all relating to his work in the police force. He is one of the accused in a case involving the death of a person in custody in 1990, allegedly as a consequence of being beaten. In April 2012, another allegation of custodial torture was registered against him, relating to an incident in 1990 that allegedly resulted in the complainant suffering kidney failure.