Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has rejected Congress leader Hardik Patel‘s plea seeking suspension of his conviction in a rioting case of 2015 in Mehsana, leaving him out in the cold, reported ANI on Friday.
As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Patel won’t be able to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election due to his conviction. This comes as a blow to both Patel and the Congress which he joined after keeping the media speculating for months over his political plans.
Only earlier this month had Patel joined the Congress in Ahmedabad in the presence of party President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Justifying his decision to enter active politics ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, he said he could now work for the six crore people of Gujarat in a better way.
Meanwhile on the case, on Wednesday, the Gujarat government had opposed Patel’s petition. The public prosecutor had argued before justice A G Uraizee that Patel was facing as many as 17 cases which reflected badly on his conduct.
He said that Patel, who led the Patidar quota agitation in 2015, had accepted that he was at the site of the riot at Visnagar in Mehsana district, which was also proved by photographs submitted in the high court.
He argued that Patel had no respect for the legal process, and made “instigating and enraging utterances” during the agitation in 2015 and even later.
Patel’s lawyer said if the conviction was not stayed, it will cause “irreparable damage” to his client as he intended to contest the Lok Sabha election. Nobody had seen Patel committing the alleged crime and the trial court did not examine any independent witnesses, the advocate said.
In July 2018, the sessions court at Visnagar sentenced Patel to two years’ imprisonment for rioting and arson in Visnagar town during the 2015 Patidar quota stir. The high court granted him bail and suspended his sentence in August 2018, but his conviction was not stayed.
Under the Representation of the People Act and a related Supreme Court ruling, convicted persons cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.