After Gujarat HC refuses to stay conviction in 2015 case, Hardik Patel can't contest LS polls; will campaign for Congress

The Gujarat High Court has refused to stay the conviction of Hardik Patel in a 2015 rioting case, according to several media reports.

The court decision comes as a setback to Hardik, who was hoping to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on a Congress ticket. Hardik has moved the court to suspend his conviction in a 2015 rioting case Mehsana, ANI reported. Under the Representation of the People Act and a related Supreme Court ruling, a convicted person cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.

 After Gujarat HC refuses to stay conviction in 2015 case, Hardik Patel cant contest LS polls; will campaign for Congress

File photo of Patidar leader Hardik Patel. PTI

On Wednesday, the Gujarat government on opposed Hardik's petition seeking a stay on his conviction in a rioting case. Public prosecutor Mitesh Amin argued before Justice A G Uraizee that Hardik was facing as many as 17 cases which reflected badly on his conduct. Amin claimed that Hardik, 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.

Hardik had no respect for legal process, and he made "instigating and enraging utterances" during the agitation in 2015 and even later, the prosecutor argued. Hardik's lawyer IH Syed 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 Hardik Patel committing the alleged crime and the trial court did not examine any independent witnesses, advocate Syed said.

In July 2018, the sessions court at Visnagar sentenced Hardik 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, a convicted persons cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.

Hardik joined the Congress on 12 March the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Justifying his decision to enter active politics ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Hardik said he could now work for the six crore people of Gujarat in a better way.

After joining the Congress at its rally near Adalaj village in Gandhinagar district, Hardik in his address asked the gathering if it was the right decision. To this, the people answered in "Yes". Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hardik said when the Congress decided to postpone its rally, earlier scheduled for 28 February, following the terror attack in Pulwama on 14 February the prime minister was busy addressing gatherings across the country.

 The 25-year-old Patidar leader praised Rahul, saying the Congress chief is "honest". "People ask me why I chose the Congress and Rahul Gandhi. I chose Rahul Gandhi because he is honest. He does not believe in working like a dictator," he said.  On the BJP's charge of dynastic politics in the Congress, Hardik said there was nothing wrong if a politician's son wanted to be join the same field to serve people. He asked the Congress cadres to get their act together to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls scheduled in April.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 29, 2019 16:22:56 IST