New Delhi: The Supreme Court has declined an urgent hearing of Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s plea to stay his conviction in the 2015 rioting case. The case comes in his way to contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. So Patel made a plea on Monday in the Supreme Court after a Gujarat High Court order rejected his petition.

Notably, Patel (25) had begun his preparations to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket after joining the party on March 12. The deadline for filing nominations is April 4 and the polling for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat will be conducted on April 23.

 Last July, the Sessions Court at Visnagar in Mehsana district sentenced Patel to two years’ imprisonment for rioting and arson in Visnagar town in 2015 during the Patidar quota stir which he led. The high court in August 2018 suspended the sentence but not the conviction.

Under the Election Law — Representation of the People Act and a related Supreme Court ruling — a convict facing a jail term of two years or more cannot stand for election unless the conviction has stayed. In the high court, the state government had submitted that there were 17 FIRs including two sedition complaints against Patel who is known for making inflammatory speeches.

The high court had declined the contention of Patel’s lawyers that if the conviction was not stayed, it will cause “irreparable damage” as he intended to contest the Lok Sabha election. In the order, the high court noted that a conviction can be stayed only in rare and exceptional cases, and the case did not fall into that category.

(With agency inputs)