A local court today framed charges of murder and other offences against suspended Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has been at loggerheads with Narendra Modi government, and six other accused policemen in a 22-year-old case of custodial torture.
Jamkhambaliya Sessions judge N T Solanki, after rejecting the applications of the accused policemen, today completed the process of framing charges and fixed December 4 for recording of evidence.
Apart from Bhatt, who has alleged complicity of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2002 post-Godhra riots, the six accused policemen are Dipak Bhagwandas Shah, Keshubhai Jadeja, Shailesh Pandya, Pravinsinh Jorubha Jhala, Pravinsinh Babubhai Jhala and Anopsinh Jethwa.
The case pertains to the death of one Prabhudas Vaishnani who allegedly succumbed to injuries inflicted on him while in custody at the Jamkhambaliya police station. The police had allegedly thrashed him on the night of October 30, 1990.
Bhatt was Assistant Superintendent of Police then in Jamnagar. He had arrested Vaishnani and more than 100 other people for rioting and other offences. They were protesting the arrest of BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani who had embarked on the Rath Yatra at that time.
The court framed charges against all the seven accused in the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) including 302 (murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506(1) (criminal intimidation) read either with 114 (abetment) or 34 (common intent).
"After the delay of so many years, finally the trial has commenced and now the first thing we have to do is to finalise the list of witnesses whom we want to examine," said public prosecutor Vimal Chotai.
Prabhudas's brother, Amrutlal Vaishnani, had lodged a complaint against Bhatt and six other policemen in the case.