Hardik Patel can’t contest Lok Sabha election as Gujarat HC rejects plea to stay conviction in riot case

Hardik Patel can't contest Lok Sabha election as Gujarat HC rejects plea to stay conviction in riot case
Hardik Patel can’t contest Lok Sabha election as Gujarat HC rejects plea to stay conviction in riot case

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat High Court on Friday rejected the plea of Congress leader and former convener of the Patidar Ananmat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS) Hardik Patel seeking stay on the conviction by a local court in Mehsana district to enable him to contest the coming Lok Sabha poll.

The court of Justice AG Uraizi had completed the hearing on Thursday and pronounced the verdict on Friday.

It refused to put a stay on the lower court order and treat the case like that of Navjot Singh Sidhu as argued by the Hardik’s counsel.

It was not immediately clear as to whether Hardik after this jolt would approach the higher court or not.

One of his counsels in the matter Salim M Saiyed said that they were awaiting the detailed order but would definitely suggest Hardik to move the Supreme Court if he sought advise.

Notably, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi who appeared for the state in the court on Thursday had vehemently opposed the plea saying that a lawbreaker should not be made a lawmaker.

He also argued that it was not necessary to become MP or MLA to do social service.

He said that there were several FIRs against Hardik.

He had also said that there was difference in the case of Punjab Minister and then MP Navjot Singh Sidhu who had got relief from Supreme Court after getting disqualified as MP following conviction by the High Court.

Notably, the counsel of Hardik IH Syed and Rafik Lokhandwala had sought treatment for Hardik like that in Sidhu’s case from the court.

The AG had requested the court to not give any special treatment to Hardik.

Hardik’s counsels had also maintained that the conviction should be stayed as there was no proof of his presence on the spot during violence, the government counsel opposed his plea saying that there were many criminal antecedents of the former PAAS leader.

In the affidavit submitted by the government counsel, it was argued hat Hardik was not showing respect for law and was flouting the bail conditions in various cases.

Hardik had moved High Court on March 8 seeking stay on the verdict in a rioting case of July 2015 so that he was not disqualified from contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.

Notably, Hardik who had joined Congress in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders on March 12 had expressed his willingness to contest LS polls from Jamnagar seat.

The nominations have started on Friday and would end on April 4.

The case was pertaining to the violence, arson and attack on the office of the then local BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel in Visnagar town of Mahesana district during a pro-quota rally of PAAS on July 23, 2015.

A local court had on July 25 last year held Hardik Patel, SPG leader Lalji Patel and another Patidar leader AK Patel guilty in the case and sentenced two years’ of simple imprisonment and imposed Rs 50 thousand fine.

The court had acquitted the other 14 accused.

The trio was granted regular bail by the Gujarat high court in August last year.

As per existing law, a person convicted in any case with a jail term of two years or above can’t contest an election.

Hardik had earlier moved high court against the lower court order seeking its quashing.

He had submitted that he did not commit the crime or done anything wrong.

That appeal is still pending for hearing and the court had not stayed the conviction.

The court would hear that appeal later.

Police had filed a chargesheet against Hardik and 16 others in March 2016 in the case.

Police had pressed the charges under sections 337 (causing hurt by endangering life or personal safety), 394 (causing hurt while committing robbery), 427 (causing damage to property) and 435 (using fire or explosives to cause damage) of Indian Penal Code and also under Gujarat Police Act against him and others.

They are accused of being part of a group of around 500 youths from the Patel community which vandalised the office of the BJP legislator, torched a car kept outside, attacked a journalist on July 23, 2015.

“The group attacked a journalist who was recording the incident, broke video camera and injured him. They also looted a mobile phone worth Rs.10,000 and set a car on fire,” the chargesheet had alleged.

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