Setback for Hardik, SC declines urgent hearing on his plea
The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an urgent hearing on Congress leader Hardik Patel’s petition seeking a stay on his conviction in a 2015 rioting case. Patel had sought the stay to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
A court in Gujarat’s Mehsana in July 2018 sentenced Patel, 25, to two years in jail for rioting and arson while he was leading an agitation for a quota in jobs and education for his Patidar community in 2015. The Gujarat high court granted Patel bail in August 2018 and suspended his sentence even as his conviction remained valid.
Patel, who joined the Congress on March 12, cannot contest the elections as long his conviction is not stayed. The Representation of the People Act bars anyone sentenced to two or more years in prison from contesting elections. Elections in Gujarat are scheduled for April 23, in the third phase of the staggered national elections. The last date for filing nominations for the third phase is April 4.
Patel’s lawyers mentioned the case before a Justice Arun Mishra-led bench and sought an urgent hearing citing the last date for filing the nomination.
The court rejected the plea. “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 cannot help yourself, we also cannot help you.”
The Congress late on Tuesday announced the candidature of Paresh Dhanani, the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, from the Amreli Lok Sabha constituency. It also named Mulubhai Kandoriya as the party candidate from Jamnagar, the seat from which many expected Patel to contest . The party also named three other candidates.