According to public prosecutor Vimal Chotai, charges are likely to be framed against Bhatt and six others -- Shailesh Pandya, Praveen Jhala, Praveen Jadeja, Anupsinh Jethva, Keshubha Tolubha and Dilip Shah on December 27. While filing the plea last month, Bhatt's advocate I H Syed had submitted that till the criminal revision application, filed earlier, was heard and disposed of, charges should not be farmed against his client. He had also contended that his application for condonation of delay of 21 years in the case be heard first, before framing charges against him.
However, Chotai had alleged that these were mere tactics by Bhatt to delay the court proceedings in the two-decade-old case. In September, Bhatt had approached the Gujarat High Court, challenging the state government decision to withdraw a plea seeking revision of a Jamkhambhliya court order initiating criminal proceedings against him and six others in connection with the alleged atrocity case.
Bhatt's petition was rejected by Justice RH Shukla of the Gujarat High Court on October 10, which he had challenged in the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court had last month refused to grant relief to Bhatt in the case and declined to entertain the petition seeking the reversal of a state government order withdrawing a revision petition in the case.
According to case details, during a communal flair-up in 1990 in Jamkhambhalia town in Jamnagar, some people were arrested under supervision of Bhatt, who was then posted as the additional superintendent of police.
Upon their release, one Prabhudas Vaishnani was admitted in hospital, where he died after eight days. Following this, his family filed a complaint against Bhatt and six others for police atrocity leading to death of a person.
The state CID carried out a probe and gave a clean chit to the Bhatt and other policemen. But the magistrate court did not accept the findings of the CID and initiated criminal proceedings against Bhatt and others.
The Gujarat government then took the position that Bhatt and others had acted in discharge of their official responsibilities and filed a revision petition in the session court in 1996, halting the criminal proceedings.
This revision petition was withdrawn by the state government in July, thereby exposing Bhatt and others to prosecution.
Bhatt, who was arrested on September 30 in connection with an FIR filed against him by a police constable for allegedly threatening him, wrongfully confining him and making him sign a false affidavit, is presently out on bail.