Ahmedabad, Mar 19 : Gujarat High Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on the plea of Congress leader and former convenor of Patidar Ananmat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS) Hardik Patel seeking stay on the conviction by a local court in Mahesana district to enable him to contest the coming Lok Sabha poll to March 26.
Hardik had moved High Court on March 8 seeking stay on the verdict in a rioting case of July 2015 so that he was not disqualified from contesting the next Lok Sabha polls. The court of Justice AG Uraizi fixed the next date of hearing on March 26 after the counsel of the state government sought time to respond.
Notably, Hardik who had joined Congress in presence of party president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders on March 12 has expressed his willingness to contest LS polls from Jamnagar seat.
Now as the hearing has been adjourned, it would be interesting to see whether the party withhold announcement of candidate of Jamnagar seat till then or not. All the 26 LS seats in Gujarat would go to poll simultaneously in the third phase on April 23.
The case pertains to the violence, arson and attack on the office of the then local BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel in Visnagar town of Mahesana district during a pro quota rally of PAAS on July 23, 2015.
A local court had on July 25 last year held Hardik Patel, SPG leader Lalji Patel and another Patidar leader A K Patel guilty in the case and sentenced 2 years of simple imprisonment and imposed Rs 50 thousand fine. The court had acquitted the other 14 accused. The trio was granted regular bail by the Gujarat high court in August last year.
Hardik's counsel Rafik Lokhandwala said, 'We have made a prayer before the court to put a stay on the conviction and the sentence against Hardik so that he could contest the next LS poll without any fear of rejection of his nomination. The matter would now be heard on March 26 as the state counsel sought time today,' he said.
Notably, as per existing law a person convicted in any case with a jail term of 2 years or above can't contest an election.
Hardik had earlier moved high court against the lower court order seeking its quashing. He had submitted that he had not committed the crime or done anything wrong. The appeal is still pending for hearing and the court has not stayed the conviction. The court would hear that appeal later.
Police had filed a charge-sheet against Hardik and 16 others in March 2016 in the case. Police had pressed the charges under sections 337 (causing hurt by endangering life or personal safety), 394 (causing hurt while committing robbery), 427 (causing damage to property) and 435 (using fire or explosives to cause damage) of Indian Penal Code and also under Gujarat Police Act against him and others.
They are accused of being part of a group of around 500 youths from the Patel community which vandalised the office of the BJP legislator, torched a car kept outside, attacked a journalist on July 23, 2015.
"The group attacked a journalist who was recording the incident, broke video camera and injured him. They also looted a mobile phone worth Rs 10,000 and set a car on fire," the charge-sheet had alleged. (UNI)