Gujarat HC partially allows Sanjiv Bhatt’s plea to access documents in the 1996 NDPS case

 He is serving life sentence in a 30-year-old custodial death case, and is also facing trial for allegedly framing a lawyer by allegedly planting 1.5 kg opium at a hotel

sanjib bhatt

The Gujarat High Court has partially allowed the application filed by former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt seeking certain documents connected to a case where he is accused of planting drugs. The documents include investigation papers of ‘A’ summary report (where a charge is true but undetected), a few pages from the case diary, 16 documents attached with the case diary, and copies of the two FIRs filed at Aagthala police station in Banaskantha in 1996.

Bhatt alleged, in court, that although these documents don’t form part of the chargesheet, it is important for a fair trial. Justice Ilesh J. Vora observed that these documents were seized by the investigating agency during the investigation of the offence, and cannot be withheld merely on the ground that it does not form part of the chargesheet.

The high court also noted that the trial court had “materially erred” in rejecting Bhatt’s plea for the case papers, and directed the prosecution to supply the documents within 15 days. The court recorded in its order, “What is significance is if in a given situation, the accused comes to the court contending that, some papers forwarded to the Court by the Investigating agency have not been exhibited by the prosecution as the same favours the accused, the court must concede a right to the accused to have an assess to the said documents….The “A” Summary report can be termed to be a part of the chargesheet, because investigating agency has collected some of the documents from “A” Summary report and made part of the chargesheet, whereas, some of the documents whether it favours the accused or not, left out from the part of the chargesheet and submitted again to the Special Court in a sealed cover.”

Bhatt also sought the documents pertaining to the inquiry conducted by Mr. Dhagal, DIG Bhuj range in 1996, but the request was not granted by the high court. The court agreed with the trial court’s decision and said that the reason why the inquiry documents need not be supplied is because Dhagal has not been cited as a witness and documents with regard to the alleged were not collected during the course of investigation.  

Justice Vora has also directed the Special Judge, NDPS court at Palanpur, “to expedite the trial proceedings and complete the same positively within a period of nine months.” The court observed that, “It is a settled law that if the trial against the accused is not concluded within reasonable time, it amounts to a violation of right of speedy trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution of India. If the prosecution is kept pending for a long time, the evidence may be obliterated by more lapse of time with the result that the evidence would not be available at the time of trial.”

Bhatt was sentenced to life-imprisonment by a Sessions Court in Jamnagar in June 2019 for his involvement in the alleged custodial death of one Prabhudas Vaishnani in November 1990. He had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2011 accusing the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 communal violence, and is currently lodged at Palanpur jail. At the time of the 2002 clash, Sanjiv Bhatt was serving as the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence in the State Intelligence Bureau.

The judgment may be read here: 



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