The Supreme Court today directed the Gujarat government to file its reply on a petition by sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt to submit additional evidence to support his appeal in the Gujarat High Court against his conviction in a 1990 custodial death case.

Bhatt has filed an appeal in the high court challenging his conviction in the custodial death case of Prabhudas Vaishnani, who was caught by Jamnagar police after a communal riot.

A bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar said no formal notice is required to be issued in the matter as Senior Advocate Maninder Singh has already appeared for the state.

The apex court asked the state government to file its reply by April 11 and posted the matter for hearing on April 18.

Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for Bhatt, submitted the Gujarat government has not filed its reply despite seeking several adjournments.

In August 2022, Bhatt had withdrawn his plea in the apex court seeking suspension of his life sentence in the 30-year-old custodial death case.

The high court had earlier refused to suspend Bhatt's sentence and observed he had had scant respect for courts and deliberately tried to misuse the process of law. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2019 in the case.

The case relates to the custodial death of Prabhudas Vaishnani, who was among 133 people caught by Jamnagar police after a communal riot broke out following a bandh call in view of BJP leader L K Advani's Rath Yatra. Subsequently, his brother lodged an FIR accusing Bhatt, who was then posted as additional superintendent of police in Jamnagar, and six other policemen of torturing Vaishnani to death in custody.

With PTI Inputs