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Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, 9 others sentenced to three months of jail for unlawful assembly over 2017 rally

The court observed that it is an offence to hold a rally without permission. NCP leader Reshma Patel is among those convicted.

Written by Parimal A Dabhi | Mehsana |
Updated: May 6, 2022 9:55:31 am
MLA Jignesh Mevani outside the Mehsana court on Wednesday. (Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

A magisterial court in Gujarat’s Mehsana Thursday convicted Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani and nine others for holding a rally from Mehsana town in July 2017 without police permission. All the convicts have been sentenced to three months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000 each.

The court of additional chief judicial magistrate J A Parmar passed the judgement and observed that “it is not an offence to hold rally but it is an offence to hold rally without permission”. The court also observed that “disobedience can never be tolerated”. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Reshma Patel is among those convicted.

On July 12, 2017, to mark one year of the infamous public flogging of some Dalits in Una that had led to a large-scale agitation in the state, Mevani and his associates led an ‘Azadi Kooch’ from Mehsana to Dhanera of neighbouring Banaskantha district.

One of Mevani’s associates, Kaushik Parmar, had sought permission for the rally under the banner of Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, an organisation founded by the Independent MLA, from the Mehsana executive magistrate and it was granted initially. Even though it was revoked by the authorities later, the rally was held by the organisers.

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Pronouncing the judgement while convicting the 10 accused, the court observed that they could have challenged the order of the executive magistrate before appropriate higher authorities and then held the rally after getting due permission.

After the rally, the Mehsana police registered a case of unlawful assembly against Mevani and others under Section 143 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) since they were not given permission to hold the march. The police submitted a chargesheet against 12 people in the case.

The rally was also attended by former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar, who is now part of the Congress. He is also one of the accused in the case.

But since Kumar was absent at the time of framing of the charge by the court against the accused in April last year, it had passed an order to hold a separate trial against him when he appears before the court.

The court commenced the trial against the 10, including Mevani, in April last year. It excluded another Kumar and another accused, who had died.

Last month, Mevani was arrested twice by the Assam Police on various charges. He was arrested from Gujarat’s Banaskantha district on April 20 and flown to Guwahati the next morning following a complaint filed by a BJP leader in Assam’s Kokrajhar district over a purported tweet against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On April 25, Mevani was granted bail by a Kokrajhar court, but was re-arrested in a fresh case filed in Barpeta district on the basis of a complaint by a woman police officer who accused him of “assaulting” her and “outraging her modesty”. In the second case, he was granted bail last Friday and walked out of jail on Saturday and returned to Gujarat this week.

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