Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Godhra: the unending battle

Sanjiv Rajendra Bhatt who was recently dismissed from IPS had been making a lot of accusations against the state of Gujarat in the Godhra case. The state government had initiated criminal proceedings against him. He filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court that the allegations against him should be probed by an SIT monitored by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court dismissed the petition (Sanjiv Rajendra Bhatt vs Union of India and others) this week. The court made several adverse comments on the conduct of the dismissed police official. It was brought out that he was in collusion with a political party (obviously the Congress) and civil activists. Some passages from the judgment are reproduced below:

"Petitioner had
probably forgotten that he was senior IPS Officer. In case he was
fairly stating a fact after 9 years he ought not to have entered into the
aforesaid exercise and kept away from all politics and activism of
creating pressure, even upon 3-Judge Bench of this Court, amicus and
many others. Thus the entire conduct of petitioner indicates that he
was not acting bona fide and was catering to the interest elsewhere.
Even if we ignore his antecedents vividly mentioned in reply of SIT
for time being, his aforesaid conduct does not inspire confidence."

"45. We are not impressed by petitioner's submissions. It cannot be
said that the petitioner has come to this Court with clean hands.
Firstly the petitioner kept quiet for a period of 9 years as to the
factum of meeting dated 27.2.2002. Then he was exchanging e-mails
for ascertaining the time and presence of the persons at Ahmedabad.
In case he was present in the meeting it was not required of him to
ascertain those facts. Petitioner did not state fact of meeting dated
27.2.2002 in statement recorded by SIT in 2009. The explanation
offered by the petitioner for said omission that his statement was
recorded in the year 2011 before SIT under section 161 Cr.P.C. as
such he made all disclosures. The SIT was same, having same powers
all the time. Petitioner is a senior IPS officer thus the explanation of
the petitioner does not appear to be prima facie credible."

"46. This Court had earlier appointed SIT and petitioner had made
unwarranted and serious allegations on the SIT constituted by this
Court whose performance has been appreciated by this Court a
number of times. Petitioner after keeping quiet for 9 years had taken
Mr. K.D. Panth with himself to the SIT on 25.3.2011 and insisted that
Mr. Panth should be examined in his presence. It was not expected of
a senior officer like petitioner to act in the aforesaid manner. Effort of
petitioner to examine Mr. K.D. Panth on 25.3.2011 in his presence by
SIT was indicative of pressure tactic employed by him. The SIT
ultimately examined Mr. Panth on 5.4.2011 and Mr. Panth has not
supported the stand of the petitioner that he attended the meeting
dated 27.2.2002. Later on petitioner as per his own case, got drafted
and obtained the affidavit of Mr. Panth and Mr. Tara Chand Yadav
and he had provided legal assistance to them and had handed over the
affidavit of Mr. Panth to the amicus curiae appointed by this Court;
whereas Mr. Panth did not turn up to handover his own affidavit. It is
also apparent that the petitioner had acted in deliberation and
consultation with the leaders of rival political party, NGOs. and had
sent the e-mails to the effect that he was not fully exploited by a
counsel of the rival political party while his statement was being
recorded before Justice Nanavati Commission. He had exchanged
e-mails with rival political party leaders and was being tutored by the
lawyer of NGO and its activist. Ghost questions and answers were
also prepared as to what the petitioner was required to speak before
Justice Nanavati Commission. Petitioner has used the media card, has
even sent the e-mails to influence the judicial proceedings of a
3-Judge Bench of this Court and has tried to influence the amicus
curiae. The e-mails also indicate that he tried pressure groups and
tried to invoke media pressure. He sent e-mail account details of the
then AAG to the media channels but they did not oblige the petitioner
as it would not have been appropriate in their opinion to do so.
Petitioner inspite of being a senior IPS officer was interacting with
the top rival political leaders of Gujarat. He also suggested to a
correspondent that he was required to state that he was present when
he was leaving for the meeting dated 27.2.2002. The e-mails of
interactions with journalists, press, media, NGOs., conduct reflected
in e-mails exchanged during the course of inquiry before Justice
Nanavati Commission, made it clear that he has not come to the
Court with clean hands. No relief can be granted if a person
approaches this Court with unclean hands as laid down by this Court
in Dalip Singh v. State of U.P. & Ors. (2010) 2 SCC 114."

"the overall conduct of the
petitioner does not inspire confidence."

" Petitioner had
made deliberate attempt to mislead this Court and has enclosed only
the covering text of the e-mails and intentionally avoided the
enclosures because the same would have exposed falsity of his stand"

"Thus the petitioner is guilty of suppressio veri and
suggestio falsi. He has suppressed the enclosures which he ought to
have filed and ought not to have made false allegations in the writ
petition that SIT was exchanging sensitive and confidential
information with the then AAG. It is unfortunate that on the one hand
petitioner has prayed for appointment of SIT and on the other has not
spared SIT appointed by this Court and has made false allegations
against it. The conduct of the petitioner cannot be said to be desirable."

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