Hardik Patel's Electoral Debut Hangs in Balance as Gujarat HC Adjourns Hearing in Rioting Case Again
Patel, who recently joined the Congress, has sought a stay on his conviction in order to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel with Congress President Rahul Gandhi as he joins grand old party in Gandhinagar. (File photo: PTI)
Ahmedabad: The electoral debut of Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel remained in limbo after the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of a petition seeking a stay of his conviction in a 2015 rioting case in the state. The case will now be heard on Wednesday.
Patel, who recently joined the Congress, has sought a stay on his conviction in order to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The Gujarat High Court was set to hear the case on March 26, but was forced to adjourn it by a day after the government lawyer did not turn up for the hearing.
The file date for filing nominations in Gujarat is April 4. The state will go to polls on April 23.
Patel had moved the high court on March 8 and challenged his conviction in a 2015 rioting case in Mehsana district during the Patidar quota agitation. A Visnagar sessions court sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment and he cannot contest elections as per provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
Patel had earlier said that he would move the Supreme Court if the high court fails to pass a verdict soon.
According to Congress party insiders, Patel’s advocates and supporters last week had sought advice from senior counsel Kapil Sibal soon after the high court granted another adjournment in the case.
Four days before joining the Congress on March 12, Patel had requested the high court to stay his conviction, claiming that he has a chance of winning. The state government had twice sought time from the court to produce material opposing the application, which was granted by the court.
Earlier, Patel’s advocates objected to the government’s request for more time, calling it a “delaying tactic” to prevent the Patidar leader from contesting the election. However, the government affidavit listed 24 FIRs against Patel in the last four years. The government claimed that his repeated offences were a clear breach of the bail conditions set by the high court, which had released him on cases related to sedition.
On March 19, Patel had taken to Twitter to express his discontent at the frequent delays in the case. He had accused the state government for deliberately adjourning the case in order to stop him from fighting the polls.
“The BJP is scared in Gujarat. Ever since I have decided to contest polls, the government lawyer is taking date after date from the Gujarat High Court,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. “BJP leaders had been convicted for five years, they can still contest polls, but the BJP is making every effort to scuttle our effort to contest polls.”
गुजरात में भाजपा डर गई हैं।मेरे चुनाव लड़ने के फ़ैसले पर पिछले दस दिन से हाईकोर्ट में सुनवाई चल रही हैं लेकिन सरकारी वक़ील तारीख़ पे तारीख़ ले रहे हैं।भाजपा के नेताओं पर पाँच साल की सज़ा है फिर भी चुनाव लड़ सकते है और हमें चुनाव लड़ने से रोकने का हर संभव प्रयास भाजपा कर रही हैं।— Berojgar Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) March 19, 2019
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