Hardik Patel’s plea for suspension of conviction: Gujarat HC to hear the matter again tomorrow

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

His advocate Rafik Lokhandwala and senior counsel I H Syed and the government counsel argued in the Court of Justice A G Uraizi.

While Hardik’s counsels 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 has been said that Hardik was not showing respect for law and was flouting the bail conditions.

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 next Loksabha poll.

Earlier the matter was adjourned twice yesterday and on March 26.

Notably, Hardik who had joined Congress in presence of party president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders on March 12 has expressed his willingness to contest LS polls from Jamnagar seat. The nominations would start from tomorrow and 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 A K Patel guilty in the case and sentenced 2 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.

Lokhandwala today said, ‘ We have made a prayer before the court to put a stay on the conviction and the sentence against Hardik so that he could contest the next LS poll without any fear of rejection of his nomination,’ he said.

Notably, as per existing law a person convicted in any case with a jail term of 2 years or above can’t contest an election.

Hardik had earlier moved moved high court against the lower court order seeking its quashing. He had submitted that he had not committed the crime or done anything wrong. The appeal is still pending for hearing and the court has 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.

DeshGujarat

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