What the Amicus curiae says about Sanjeev Bhatt

published on May 10, 2012

With respect to the post-Godhra riots in 2002, the Supreme Court had made various interventions, on the demand made by those who would call themselves as members of the civil society (but actually have an intense political agenda against the Sangh parivar).  One such intervention was the establishment of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the various facts collected by different agencies, and come to informed conclusions.  When it became clear that the SIT would be giving a clean chit to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, the members of the civil society got the Supreme Court to appoint an Amicus curiae, a lawyer supposed to be a friend of the court, to look into what the SIT has reported.
 
The whole effort of these members of the civil society was to get someone to damn Narendra Modi, one whom they hate the most.  Their objective was not to get to the truth, but to use the judiciary for their political agenda.  The Supreme Court gave them a long rope, and asked the SIT to consider the report of the Amicus curiae, before coming out with a final report.
 
When the SIT did so, they found no reason to change what they had already concluded based on the facts available with them.  It is thus necessary to see what the Amicus curiae, Raju Ramchandran, has to say.
 
From the various newspaper reports, it would seem that the Amicus curiae’s basis of making the comment that Modi could be prosecuted is what Sanjeev Bhat has said recently.  Some of these points are mentioned here, with a asterisk (*) mark.  I have offered my comments after each of these points, enclosing them in brackets.  At a couple of places, I have enclosed what the SIT had to say, available in the news items from where I have taken the information relating to what Amicus curiae says about Sanjeev Bhat.
 
The news items referred to are:

 
Gujarat riots: Amicus curiae says Modi can be prosecuted

Author: Express news service
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 7, 2012
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/offences-can-be-made-out-against-narendra-modi-for-2002-guj-riots-sc-amicus-curiae/946400/0
 
Tale of two reports: Amicus Curiae says investigate Modi

Author: FP Staff
Publication: Firstpost.com
Date: May 7, 2012
URL: http://www.firstpost.com/india/tale-of-two-reports-now-amicus-curae-says-investigate-modi-301046.html
 
Amicus curiae said Modi can be prosecuted, but SIT gave clean chit

Author: Express news service
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 8, 2012
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/amicus-curiae-said-modi-can-be-prosecuted-but-sit-gave-clean-chit/946742/0
 
Proceed against Modi for Gujarat riots: amicus
Author: Special Correspondent
Publication: The Hindu
Date: May 7, 2012
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3393808.ece?homepage=true
 
*Regarding Bhatt, the amicus curiae (adviser to court) said that “in my opinion, despite the aforesaid background (SIT rejecting Bhatt’s claims), it does not appear very likely that a serving police officer would make such a serious allegation against Shri Modi, the Chief Minister of the State, without some basis”.
 
(The Amicus curiae himself provides the basis in his report.)
 
*”Therefore, it is the word of Shri Bhatt against the word of other officers, senior to him. The SIT has chosen to believe the word of the senior officers,” Ramchandran said in his report…. “It would not be correct to disbelieve the version of Shri Bhatt, at this prima facie stage,” Ramchandran further said.
 
(So it is correct to disbelieve the version of several other officers at this prima facie stage.)
 
*The lawyer also expresses his skepticism about Bhatt’s testimony saying, “I am left with no doubt that he is actively ‘strategizing’, and is in touch with those who would benefit or gain mileage from his testimony.” However, these can’t be used to ignore his statement, he notes.
 
(I guess the Amicus curiae thinks that the people of this country are really fools.)
 
*Ramchandran said he found it difficult to accept the SIT’s decision against Bhatt since he believed the IPS official would have been called for the meeting due to his position in the police force at the time.
 
(So belief, not facts, becomes sufficient reason to ask for prosecution.)
 
*The amicus curiae said that since there was no clinching evidence that proved Bhatt’s allegations was false, further legal proceedings should have been initiated against the Gujarat Chief Minister and said his innocence could be proved before the court following the trial.
 
(So the court should prove a person’s innocence and not his guilt.)

 
*He based this on the statement of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who claimed he was at the meeting, and on evidence that former ministers I K Jadeja and Ashok Bhatt were present in police control rooms after rioting broke out across Gujarat.
 
(In one of the reports, the following is mentioned: However, a source in the SIT said, “Our evidence shows that Ashok Bhatt was in the city police control room for some 15 minutes on March 1, 2002, because he was to receive the then union minister of defence George Fernandes. He was to reach the circuit house annexe, but he went to the control room. As for Jadeja, he spent some 45 minutes in the state control room on February 28, 2002.”)
 
*In his report, Mr. Ramachandran strongly disagreed with a key conclusion of the R.K. Raghavan-led SIT: that IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was not present at a late-night meeting of top Gujarat cops held at the Chief Minister’s residence in the wake of the February 27, 2002 Godhra carnage.
 
(In a report, the following is mentioned: In its reports, the SIT had dismissed Mr. Bhatt as an unreliable witness on several grounds: He had been silent for nine years; he had “an axe to grind” against the State; his language on what Mr. Modi said was not exact; he had tried to tutor witnesses; and his claims about attending a meeting called by Mr. Modi for 10. 30 a.m. on February 28, 2002 had been belied by his call records which showed he was in Ahmedabad at that time.)
 
*“It would not be correct to conclude, at this stage, that Shri Bhatt should be completely disbelieved unless there is clinching material available to the contrary…”
 
(The testimony of so many other officers that he was not present is not clinching enough for the Amicu curiae.)

 
*He said though he was conscious that Mr. Bhatt had not behaved like “a detached police officer” and had actively strategised with others, he was of the opinion that this background did not detract from Mr. Bhatt’s testimony.
 
(Another statement which would indicate that the Amicus curiae thinks that the people are fools.)

 
*Mr. Ramachandran said though there was “absence of material” to indicate that the two ministers had acted on Mr. Modi’s alleged anti-Muslim instructions of February 27, 2002, “the very presence of political personalities unconnected with the Home Portfolio at the Police Control Rooms is circumstantial evidence of the Chief Minister directing, requesting or allowing them to be present.”
 
(Another statement which would indicate that the Amicus curiae thinks that the people are fools.)
 
*He accepted the SIT’s conclusion that Haren Pandya could not have been present at the February 27 meeting. He also accepted the SIT’s conclusion, “with regard to the steps taken by Chief Minister Shri Modi to control the riots in Ahmedabad.”
 
(If he agrees that the chief minister took adequate steps to control the riots, then surely the only value of Bhatt’s testimony is to throw it in the dustbin.)

 
About Bhatt, the Amicus curiae says, “I am left with no doubt that he is actively ‘strategizing’, and is in touch with those who would benefit or gain mileage from his testimony.”  Ramachandran was also appointed as Amicus curiae in evaluating the death penalty imposed on the surviving terrorist, Ajmal Kasab, amongst the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on 26th November, 2008.  A news paper report says: “Before completing his arguments on behalf of Kasab before a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, the amicus curiae stressed that the accused did not get a fair trial. Ramachandran also said Kasab did not get proper legal assistance during the trial leading to violation of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 22.  He also doubted the veracity of Kasab’s confessional statement, saying it appeared to be a forcibly extracted confession. Ramachandran said Kasab was only a pawn in the entire operation where the masterminds had not been brought to book and hence it was doubtful whether charges of waging war could be fastened against him.”
 
Thus, one has to wonder if the Amicus curiae said about Bhatt does not apply to himself.
 
It is a tragedy for India that there are people amongst its citizenry who are trying their best to destroy the various institutes that have served the country well, and important for a vibrant democracy.  It is a greater tragedy that there are none amongst the media, and others who occupy the intellectual space, who speak out of this attempt of destruction.

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