Gujarat HC Dismisses Plea by Sanjiv Bhatt’s Wife Seeking Reasons for Withdrawal of Police Protection

The Gujarat High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt’s wife Shweta Bhatt who had sought to know the reasons for the withdrawal of the family’s police protection.

Rejecting her plea in “larger public interest”, Justice Nirzar Desai said if the government was asked to produce such documents, the confidentiality of the methodology of providing and withdrawing police protection will be breached.

Protection had been granted to Bhatt and his family in the past because he was a witness in a case involving the then chief minister (Narendra Modi), and “that does not stand now because you (Sanjiv Bhatt) are in jail”, the court said.

Sanjiv Bhatt, who was dismissed from service in 2015, has been behind bars since his arrest in September 2018 in a case of alleged planting of drugs to frame a man. At present, he is serving life sentence in a 1990 case of custodial death.

His and his family’s security was withdrawn in July 2018 after a committee, headed by Additional Chief Secretary, Home, reviewed the threat perception.

In 2019, Shweta Bhatt knocked on the doors of the High Court to get back the security cover for the family citing some incidents such as an accident involving her vehicle.

Senior advocate Anand Yagnik, appearing for Bhatt, said the petition was limited to seeking the communication which contained the reasons for which the committee recommended withdrawal.

“It is the right of the petitioner to know the grounds and reasons for which the police protection was withdrawn. There has to be a reason behind it,” Yagnik argued on Friday.

Public prosecutor Mitesh Amin opposed the demand, saying the police protection of more than 60 persons including judges had been withdrawn after the same review, and Bhatt had not been singled out.

“This report (carrying reasons) is confidential,” he said.

When Yagnik insisted on his demand, Justice Desai intervened, saying, “If it’s a matter of discretion of the government, you can not seek those notings (of meetings). You were a witness, that’s why you were given protection at that time. Now that does not stand because you are in jail.”

The court further observed that at a time when police have limited manpower, “if the state is directed to assign reasons for each and every withdrawal of police protection, police will be busy with this administrative work only”.

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