The Supreme Court today imposed ₹10,000 cost on former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt who challenged the direction issued by the Gujarat High Court to the Trial Court to complete trial against him in the two old-decade drug seizure case within a stipulated timeline.

While dismissing Bhatt's SLP, the Court refused to accept his argument that the non-mention of the dismissal of an earlier SLP in the pleadings was inadvertent.

In a criminal trial, the accused should be more interested in the expeditious disposal of the trial. When the learned single Judge of the High Court had granted extension that too on the second occasion we find there is no cause for the petitioner to approach this court by filing SLP” observed a Bench comprising Justice BR Gavai and Justice Aravind Kumar.

The grant of extension of time is a matter between the trial court and High Court. We find the present petition to be completely frivolous and without merits and dismiss it with a cost of ₹10,000. The cost imposed to be deposited with the Gujarat Legal Services Authority”, ordered the Bench further.

Bhatt approached the Supreme Court challenging the direction dated January 6 of the High Court whereby the Additional Sessions Judge granted further extension till March 31, 2023 (though an extension for further six months was sought by the Additional Sessions Judge) to dispose of the special NDPS case against him.

The High Court had ordered, “the Presiding Officer shall ensure that within extended time, case is disposed of subject to clarification that henceforth no further extension shall be granted”.

Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, who appeared on behalf of Bhatt, submitted before the Apex Court that only 16 out of 61 witnesses have been examined and the nature of directions issued by the High Court would prevent the trial court from deciding the matter in a judicious manner.

I’ve no interest in protracting the trial. Please ensure that justice is done. This is a peremptory order that “finish the trial by March 31”. Please clarify that, in the interest of justice, if the trial judge feels an application may be made by him to the High Court for extension”, he submitted.

On the other hand, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the State of Gujarat and Senior Advocate Atmaram Nadkarni, representing the original complaint opposed the Special Leave Petition filed.

It was submitted that the dismissal of an earlier SLP was suppressed from the Court by Bhatt.

The Court rejected the argument of Senior Advocate Kamat that the non-disclosure of the dismissed SLP was inadvertent and not deliberate. “It is difficult to believe that such an important omission is inadvertent and not deliberate”, the Bench said.

The Petitioner rather than approaching this Court ought to have cooperated with the trial court for expeditious disposal. The grant of extension of time is a matter between the trial court and High Court”, said the Supreme Court.

Cause Title- Sanjeev Kumar Rajendrabhai Bhatt v. The State of Gujarat