Sanjiv Bhatt is an ex-IPS officer of the 1988 Gujarat cadre. He is well-known for giving statements against the Gujarat government after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Sanjiv Rajendra Bhatt was born on Saturday, 21 December 1963 (age 58 years; as of 2021) in Mumbai. Sanjiv Bhatt completed his schooling at St. Xaviers High School, Loyola Hall, Ahmedabad in 1981. After completing his schooling, Sanjiv Bhatt pursued his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. He earned his MTech degree in 1985.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Sanjiv Bhatt belongs to a Kashmiri family.
His father, Rajendra Bhatt, was a manager at the Hutheesing textile mill. His mother, Shakuntala Bhatt, was a doctor.
Wife & Children
His wife, Shweta Bhatt, is a homemaker. The couple got married on 31 December 1987.
His daughter, Aakashi Bhatt, is a doctor. His son’s name is Shantanu Bhatt.
Sanjiv Bhatt met Shweta when they both were preparing for the UPSC examination. Shweta once claimed that the couple dated each other for a year and a half before getting married. In an interview, Shweta said,
Sanjiv was determined to be a police officer. We courted for a year and married in 1987 and I gave up my career.”
Sanjiv Bhatt, through his social media, claims to be Agnostic.
Sanjiv Bhatt is a Kashmiri Pandit.
He resides at Bungalow No-2, Sushil Nagar Society, Part 2, Memnagar, Drive In Road, Ahmedabad – 380052.
After completing his formal education in 1985, Sanjiv Bhatt appeared for the pan India UPSC examination, which he cleared in 1987. In 1988, he joined the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA) in Telangana.
Sanjiv Bhatt was commissioned as an IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre in 1988. In 1990, he was posted at Jamnagar as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). There, during the 1990 communal violence, Bhatt arrested 150 people to restore peace in the area. In 1996, Sanjiv Bhatt was promoted to the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP) and was posted to the Banaskantha district of Gujarat. In 1999, Sanjiv Bhatt was given another promotion, and he was sent to Gandhinagar to take charge of the Gujarat state’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) as a Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Intelligence. He held the post until the end of the 2002 Gujarat riots. As a Deputy Commissioner of the state’s IB, Sanjiv’s responsibilities included maintaining the security of the coastal areas, internal security as well as security of vital state installations. He was also in charge of the security of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.
In 2002, after the infamous Gujarat riots, the then CM of Gujarat was accused of mocking the high birth rate among the Muslim community of Gujarat in one of his speeches. When the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) demanded that the transcripts of the speech be handed over to them, the government of Gujarat refused to have any recordings of the event; however, the state Intelligence Bureau handed over the transcripts to the commission, as a result of which, IPS officers like Sanjiv Bhatt and R. B. Sreekumar were shunted by the state government and were sent on punishment postings. An undisclosed state IB official, in an interview, said,
There were attempts by the state government to make the bureau withhold the cassette from the Intelligence Bureau headquarters in Gandhinagar to prevent it from becoming a part of the official records against the Chief Minister.”
After falling out of favour with the Gujarat government in 2002, Sanjiv Bhatt was posted as a Principal of the State Reserve Police Training College in Junagadh. In 2003, Sanjiv Bhatt was once again moved and posted as a Superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail. As a Superintendent of the jail, Sanjiv became famous among the inmates for his efforts to improve the living standards of inmates. He also gained popularity in the jail for appointing inmates, who were on trial for the 2002 train burning at Godhra, on the trial committee. He further introduced Gajar Ka Halwa, a sweet dish for the inmates. On 18 November 2003, barely two months after being appointed as a Superintendent of the Sabarmati Central Jail, Sanjiv Bhatt was posted out. Sanjiv Bhatt was denied promotions as many departmental cases were pending against him. On 8 August 2011, Sanjiv Bhatt was suspended from the police service by the Gujarat government for remaining absent without taking any leaves for a longer duration of time, and also for using his official vehicle for personal use. Sanjiv Bhatt in his argument stated that he was unable to report to the duty as he was being summoned often by the Nanavati-Mehta commission (NMC); a committee established by the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government. After serving for 27 years, in 2015, he was sacked from the police force.
Finally removed from service today after serving 27 years in the Indian Police Service. Once again eligible for employment. 🙂 Any takers?
— Sanjiv Bhatt (IPS) (@sanjivbhatt) August 19, 2015
Accused of torturing
In 1990, Sanjiv Bhatt was posted as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) at Jamnagar when communal violence broke out. The violence was a result of the widespread protests against L. K. Advani’s Rathyatra in the town. The Jamnagar police, led by Bhatt, took 150 rioters into preventive custody. In 1990, a man named Prabhudas Vaishnani, one of the detainees, died in a hospital due to multiple organ failures after his release. His younger brother, Amrutlal Vaishnani, filed an FIR against Sanjiv and six other policemen, and he accused them of resorting to violence against Prabhudas while he was in the custody. He also claimed that Prabhudas was brutally beaten and tortured by the police force before his release. In an interview, Amrutlal claimed,
My brother was beaten with rifle butts, asked to crawl on their elbows and made to do situps. They were not given water or medical attention. Prabhudas’s kidney was damaged because of custodial torture. Bhatt and other cops threatened him to not talk about the torture. CID Crime, which probed the case, had concluded that Prabhudas Vaishnani had died because of inhuman torture.”
The Gujarat government, before 2011, had appealed to the Gujarat High Court to drop the charges against the accused cops, but after Sanjiv filed a petition against the Gujarat government, the government charge-sheeted Sanjiv and the other six policemen in the police atrocities case of 1990. In 2019, the Supreme Court in its judgement convicted Sanjiv Bhatt and his Sub-Inspectors Dipak Shah and Sailesh Pandya, and Constables Pravinsih Jadeja, Anopsinh Jethva, and Keshubha Jadeja of first-degree murder. The court handed out life imprisonment to Sanjiv, while others were given two years in a prison sentence.
Accused of framing a Rajasthan-based lawyer
In 1996, Sanjiv Bhatt was posted as a Superintendent of Police (SP) of the Banaskantha district of Gujarat. There, he was accused of framing a Rajasthan-based lawyer, Sumer Singh Rajpurohit, in a false contraband case. In an FIR registered by the Crime Branch of Rajasthan Police, the police stated that Sanjiv Bhatt, R. R. Jain (a former judge of the Gujarat High Court), and his uncle, Phootarmal, had implicated Rajpurohit in the false narcotics case by planting 1.15 kg of Opium in the hotel room of the accused layer. The Rajasthan BAR council and former BJP MP from Pali, Pushp Jain, said that Rajpurohit was being harassed by the trio as he owns a shop in Pali’s Vardhaman Market, a posh locality, and the trio wanted him to vacate his shop, and hand it over to them. In an interview, Jain said,
To get his shop vacated, the judge, his uncle Phootarmal and the IPS officer kidnapped and implicated Rajpurohit in April 1996.”
Sanjiv Bhatt was also accused of filing a total of forty affidavits in the Supreme Court to delay the court’s judgement. The BAR council accused Bhatt of having himself appointed as the presiding officer in the case by the Gujarat government so that he can appear for the criminal proceedings against himself on the government’s expenditure. On 5 September 2019, Sanjiv Bhatt was arrested by the police on the charges of framing Sumer Singh Rajpurohit in a false narcotics case.
The alleged meeting at CM’s residence
In 2002, Sanjiv Bhatt appeared before the Nanavati-Mehta commission, and the Concerned Citizens Tribunal, established by a group of NGOs after the 2002 Gujarat riots. Sanjiv Bhatt testified against the Gujarat government before the tribunal and stated that the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, had called an emergency meeting at his residence, of which Sanjiv was a part as well, and he asked the police officers not to “get in the way of Hindu backlash” and “allow the Hindus to vent their anger” to “teach the Muslims a lesson.” According to a list, containing the names of the police officials who had attended the meeting, which was submitted by the former Home Minister of Gujarat late Haren Pandya, Sanjiv Bhatt’s name was not on the list. In its official statement, the Nanavati-Mehta commission stated,
On consideration of the evidence, it clearly appears that Bhatt is not telling the truth with regards to what happened in the meeting held on February 27, 2002, at the CM’s residence. Claims made by him of being present in the meeting appear to be false.”
In 2011, Sanjiv Bhatt filed a petition in the Supreme Court, accusing Narendra Modi of “instigating the 2002 Gujarat riots.” In his filed petition, Bhatt once again claimed that he was present at the meeting which was held on 27 February 2002 at the CM’s residence. He further accused the CM of allowing the parading of the dead bodies of the Hindus in Ahemdabad, killed during the Godhra train incident, despite being warned that it could stir up religious tension in the state. He also accused Narendra Modi of allowing VHP and Bajrang Dal to deliver hate speeches in the state. In his litigation, Sanjiv claimed that he had informed Narendra Modi of the imminent threat which was looming upon the ex-Member of Parliament of Congress, Ehsan Jafri, who was later killed during a mob’s attack on the Gulbarg society. In an officially recorded statement, Sanjiv stated,
It was sought to impress upon the Chief Minister (Modi) by me that as per intelligence information, there was a large-scale mobilisation of the Sangh Parivar cadre in major cities as well as in far-flung rural areas of the state. (Then) DGP K. Chakrabarthy and city Police Commissioner P.C. Pande had presented the case before Modi that they were extremely short of manpower in order to meet the situation of Gujarat bandh called by VHP (on February 28, 2002). It was further conveyed that in the case of communal violence, state police resources would be stretched and become ineffective.”
Accused of forcing his narrative upon others
In 2011, Bhatt claimed that there were six witnesses to his arrival at the CM’s residence for the meeting. One of these witnesses was his official driver, Constable K. D. Panth. On 24 June 2011, an FIR was lodged against Sanjiv Bhatt by his former driver, who accused Bhatt of forcing him to sign an affidavit supporting his claims. He further accused Sanjiv Bhatt of forcefully taking him to the residence of Arjun Modhwadia, the then Congress party’s state President, who threatened Panth of facing repercussions if he did not follow Bhatt’s orders. . Following the filing of an FIR, the state police arrested Bhatt on 30 September 2011. After his arrest, Sanjiv Bhatt accused Panth of following the state government’s orders. Giving a clarification on the allegations against him, K. D. Panth said,
I have reported the incident in the FIR that I was made to sign the affidavit by the wrong means. And I have mentioned everything in the FIR. I have lodged the FIR (First Information Report) based on the situations I have been through and on whatever I faced. Therefore, there is no question of any pressure from anyone.”
Accused of hacking the mails
After Bhatt was arrested in 2011, Tushar Mehta, who was the Advocate General of Gujarat in 2002, lodged an FIR against the former IPS officer, accusing him of stealing information by hacking into his emails. Bhatt in his defence accused Tushar Mehta of sharing the Supreme Court’s constituted SIT’s highly confidential data with the state authorities. Sanjiv Bhatt’s wife, in defence of her husband, said that Sanjiv only accessed Mehta’s computer and his mail account to help him book tickets, as Tushar Mehta did not know how to operate a computer. In 2015, Sanjiv Bhatt filed a litigation in the Supreme Court, seeking an independent probe by the Supreme Court in the two FIRs lodged against him as he believed the FIRs to be politically motivated.
Blaming the SIT
In 2008, to investigate the incidents related to the 2002 Gujarat riots, an SIT was constituted by the order of the Supreme Court, under the chairmanship of the then Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) R. K. Raghavan. The Supreme Court, in 2010, appointed Ramachandran Raju as its amicus curiae (advisor to the court), who reviewed the reports filed by the SIT. In 2010, he submitted the report of his findings to the Supreme Court, in which he mentioned Sanjiv Bhatt’s statement about visiting the CM’s residence for the emergency meeting in 2002 to be true. In his report, Ramachandran Raju stated,
In my opinion, despite the aforesaid background, it does not appear very likely that a serving police officer would make such a serious allegation against Mr. Modi, the Chief Minister of the State, without some basis. There is no documentary material of any nature whatsoever which can establish that Shri Bhatt was not present in the meeting on 27.02.2002.”
In 2011, Sanjiv Bhatt accused the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of tampering with the evidence to shield the Gujarat government. He further accused the SIT of leaking information about the Godhra probe to Tushar Mehta. In an interview, Bhatt claimed,
I happened to access Mehta’s account to do some ticket and hotel bookings for their vacations, one to Goa in September 2009 and another to the US in May-June 2010, when I saw emails from the SIT probing Godhra, in his inbox.”
In June 2011, Bhatt filed a PIL against the SIT accusing them of hacking into his email account and leaking the information to the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government. The Supreme Court declared Bhatt’s claims to be “false, misleading, and baseless.” The court further stated that the “sacked IPS Sanjiv Bhatt did not come with clean hands,” and he had shared emails about making it difficult for the judges to deliver a judgement on the trial with an activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). In its judgement, the bench concluded,
The contents of the e-mail exchanged by Bhatt, who was a high ranking officer, with an activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in which he has “mentioned to create a situation so as to make it difficult for a 3-Judge Bench of this Court to disregard shortcomings of SIT and exerting pressure by the groups and opinion makers in Delhi.”
Inactivity of the authorities in controlling the riots
In 2012, Sanjiv Bhatt produced evidence of the police force’s inactivity during the 2002 Gujarat riots to the SIT. Bhatt claimed that he had detailed information on the deployment of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), and the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF). He further accused the then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi of deploying the forces in a manner, where they could not do much to control the riots. He also accused the authorities of delaying the deployment of the Indian Army to control the riots. Bhatt also accused the police force of laxity in detaining the rioters to prevent the riot’s widespread. In a letter written by Sanjiv Bhatt to SIT, he stated,
Please find… copies of some relevant documents which should convince you that for some inexplicable reason, Ahmedabad City Police were exceptionally lax in making preventive arrests on February 27, 2002, despite the anticipated likelihood of widespread retributory violence.”
Haren Pandya murder allegations
On 26 March 2003, Haren Pandya, former Home Minister of Gujarat, was assassinated by some unidentified gunmen while he was out on a walk. In 2011, during a court trial, Sanjiv Bhatt accused the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and his Home Minister, Amit Shah, of mounting pressure on him to destroy crucial evidence that he had collected while he was posted as a Superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail. He claimed that while he was posted at the jail, he met a few prisoners like Asgar Ali, who were accused of planning the murder. Sanjiv claimed that Asgar told him that the attack on the former home minister was carried out by a man named Tulsiram Prajapati, who was killed in 2006, in a fake encounter by the Gujarat police. When Bhatt told the then Home Minister of Gujarat, Amit Shah, about it, he was ordered to immediately destroy all the evidence he had. Upon refusing to destroy the evidence, Bhatt was transferred from the jail. In his affidavit. Sanjiv Bhatt claimed,
Failing to persuade me either to withdraw my report or destroy the very important documentary evidences regarding the role of certain highly placed State functionaries/politicians and senior police officers in the killing of Haren Pandya, I was removed from the post of Superintendent of Police in-charge of the Sabarmati central jail and was kept without a posting for over two-and-a-half months.”
The Supreme Court’s decision
On 13 October 2015, the Supreme Court formed a bench comprising Chief Justice H. L. Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra. After conducting the trial, the bench concluded that Sanjiv Bhatt had worked in collaboration with some political parties and social activists to falsely present the evidence against Narendra Modi, and wrongly accused him of inciting the 2002 Gujarat riots. The court further stated that Bhatt, despite being a senior IPS officer, showed unprofessionalism by acting on the gestures of others, fulfilling their agenda. In its judgement, the apex court stated,
The exchange of emails which are self-explanatory indicates that the petitioner was in active touch with leaders of the rival political party, NGOs, and their lawyers tried to play the media card and was being tutored by NGOs. The manner in which he acted is apparent from the aforesaid emails and need not be repeated. Petitioner had probably forgotten that he was a senior IPS officer. Thus the entire conduct of the petitioner indicates that he was not acting bona fide and was catering to interests elsewhere. Even if we ignore his antecedents vividly mentioned in reply of SIT for time being, his aforesaid conduct does not inspire confidence.”
Accused of presenting false claims against Prime Minister Narendra Modi
In June 2022, a joint PIL, against the SIT’s clean chit to Narendra Modi, was rejected by the Supreme Court. The PIL was jointly filed by Sanjiv Bhatt, Teesta Setalvad, Zakia Jafri, and R. B. Sreekumar. With the PIL, the Supreme Court also quashed all of Sanjiv Bhatt’s allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat government. The court in its verdict stated that the trio played with the emotions of the 2002 Gujarat riot victim, Zakia Jafri, for their gains with malafide intentions. An FIR was lodged against Sanjiv Bhatt for procuring “false and misleading” evidence against the Prime Minister. The FIR was lodged by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Gujarat police under Sections 468, 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court in its judgement stated,
At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create a sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation. The present proceedings (by Zakia Jafri) have been pursued for the last 16 years including with the audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved in the process of exposing the devious stratagem adopted, to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design. As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law. For, persons not privy to the stated meeting, where utterances were allegedly made by the then Chief Minister, falsely claimed themselves to be eye-witnesses, and after thorough investigation by the SIT, it has become clear that their claim of being present in the meeting was itself false to their knowledge. We hasten to add that it is only because of the ultra-sensational revelation projected by Sanjiv Bhatt and Haren Pandya, who unabashedly claimed to be privy to the utterances made by the then Chief Minister in an official meeting, that the constitutional functionaries and this Court was required to move into action taking serious note of the same. But, after thorough investigation by the SIT, the falsity of such claim has been fully exposed on the basis of credible indisputable materials collated by the SIT during the investigation in that regard.”
- In an interview given to The Indian Express, Shweta Bhatt claimed that Sanjiv was Gujarat’s first IPS officer, who was recruited directly into the state’s cadre, at a time, when Gujarat did not have many aspirants who wanted to join the police force as an officer.
- Sanjiv Bhatt’s wife, Shweta, while giving an interview to The Indian Express said that he used to go for a 15 km run to maintain his physical fitness.
- In 2003, when Sanjiv Bhatt was transferred from the Sabarmati Jail, approximately 3000 inmates went on a strike which nearly lead to a riot.
- In 2013, Sanjiv Bhatt was awarded Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation.
- Sanjiv Bhatt was denied timely promotions since many departmental cases were pending against him. In an interview given to The Indian Express, one of his colleagues claimed that by 2007, when Sanjiv was a Superintendent of Police (SP) many of his batchmates from the academy had been promoted and made Inspector General of Police (IGP). He told the media,
The number of criminal cases and departmental inquiries he faced through various political regimes made him ineligible for timely promotions. Meanwhile, all his colleagues from the 1988 batch of IPS are already IGPs.”
- In 2018, after the Supreme Court’s order, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) demolished the illegally constructed parts of his bungalow.
- Sanjiv Bhatt, on social media, introduces himself as an Inspector General of Police (IGP).