SC Deals Blow to Hardik Patel’s Poll Debut Ambition, Declines Urgent Hearing of Plea to Stay Conviction
The Patidar quota agitation leader had started preparations to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket after joining the party on March 12, but his plans were laid waste by a Gujarat HC order against which he had appeal in the Supreme Court.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel joined the Congress on March 12 this year in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)
New Delhi: "If you can't help yourself, we also can't help you," the Supreme Court told Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Tuesday while refusing to grant him urgent hearing to stay his conviction.
Dimming Patel's hopes of contesting the upcoming general elections on a Congress ticket from Gujarat's Jamnagar constituency, the top court questioned him for filing his petition belatedly.
Last year, Patel was convicted in a case of rioting during the Patidar agitations and was sentenced to two years in jail by a Gujarat sessions court. While his jail term was put in abeyance, his conviction was not stayed.
After joining Congress on March 12, Patel sought to get his conviction stayed since he cannot file his nomination paper without a stay on his conviction.
Under the Representation of the People Act, a candidate is disabled from running for a public office if he stands convicted in a case entailing a jail term of two years or more.
Gujarat High Court had last week refused to stay Patel's conviction, compelling him to move the Supreme Court.
He filed his appeal on Monday, stating he would suffer irreparable loss and will not be able to contest if his conviction is not stayed. Patel also cited Navjot Singh Sidhu's case wherein the top court had stayed the cricketer-turned-politician's conviction to enable him contest as a BJP candidate.
His lawyers on Tuesday mentioned the matter before a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra for an urgent hearing. But the bench was unimpressed with his plea, especially in view of the fact that Patel had perhaps allowed his order of conviction become final with the lapse of time.
"Your sentence was suspended in August 2018. What were you doing since August last year? Why did you not challenge it then? And now you suddenly wake up and want an urgent hearing. If you can't help yourself, we also can't help you," the bench told his lawyers.
Appearing for the Gujarat government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also resisted Patel's plea, saying no urgent hearing is warranted when the Patidar leader was sleeping over the last order for so many months.
Despite repeated requests by his lawyer, the top court said it finds no merit in allowing urgent hearing to Patel.
Notably, the last date of filing nomination is April 4. If Patel does not manage to get a hearing and have his conviction stayed, he will not be able to fight the Lok Sabha election. This would also come as a huge setback for Congress, which has pinned its hope on the youth leader representing a strong vote bank of Patidar community.
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