The Supreme Court bench hearing Gujarat’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel’s plea for quashing sedition charges registered against him by the Gujarat police recused itself on Wednesday.
The bench took this step after there was a difference of opinion between the two judges on whether notice should be issued to the state or not.
A bench of justices V Gopal Gowda and Amitava Roy ordered listing of Hardik’s appeal against the Gujarat high court’s order holding a prima facie case of sedition was made out against the 22-year old PAAS leader before a fresh bench.
This came almost 45 minutes after the two heard senior advocate Kapil Sibal arguing for Hardik. The two judges held a brief consultation before saying “this matter will go before another bench”.
Justice Roy did not seem inclined to entertain Patel’s petition whereas justice Gowda favoured issuing a notice to Gujarat to know its response.
Normally, judges at the very outset recuse from hearing a matter citing conflict of interests. But in this case the bench heard the matter before passing the order.
Though attorney general Mukul Rohatgi and additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta were present in the court on behalf of the Gujarat government, the two did not address the court as Sibal took time in his attempt to convince the bench.
The Surat police had on October 18 booked Patel for sedition charges, 15 days after he allegedly told PAAS activist Vipul Desai not to commit suicide and instead kill policemen.