Senior Indian Police Service officer Sanjeev Bhatt on Tuesday said he would challenge his suspension by the Gujarat government, claiming that the action was prompted by his petition in the Supreme Court on the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
The Narendra Modi government, however, contested Bhatt's claim saying it was not the case and that the suspension was prompted by his acts of indiscipline.
"This (suspension of Bhatt) was direct reaction to the petition filed by Bhatt in the Supreme Court. I believe that the actions was biased," Bhatt's lawyer Iqbal Sayed told mediapersons.
"We are weighing legal options and deciding on forums where the suspension order could be challenged," he said. According to Syed, they have two options either going directly to the Supreme Court or approaching the Central Administrative Tribunal.
Bhatt, a 1988 batch IPS officer, who has been locked in a public confrontation with the Gujarat government over post-Godhra riots, was suspended late on Monday night. He was placed under suspension by the home department in exercise of powers conferred by Rule 3(1) of All India Services (Discipline and Appeals) Rules, 1969.
The specific reasons cited against Bhatt were unauthorised absence from duty, non-appearance before a departmental panel and alleged misuse of official vehicle.
State Director General of Police Chitranjan Singh told reporters in Gandhinagar that the action against Bhatt was for indiscipline as he has been absent from duty of posting as principal of State Reserve Police Force training unit, Junagadh, for over 10 months.
When asked to comment on Syed's claim that the suspension was a result of Bhatt's affidavit in the Apex Court, Singh said that was not the case. The disciplinary action was taken after preliminary inquiry report by a senior Additional Director General of Police level officer, he added.
Congress demanded shifting of all riot related cases outside the state for proper action against the accused in the wake of his petition before the Apex Court.