The Gujarat High Court on Friday reserved the order of a petition moved by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against him for sedition and “spreading hatred among communities,” among others charges. The court will pronounce its order on October 27.
Hardik was booked under sedition by Surat police for his alleged remarks to “kill four-five policemen instead of committing suicide” to a Surat-based PAAS members Vipul Desai on October 3. Desai had announced to commit suicide if the state government doesn’t heed to their demand for reservation.
During the hearing, the court raised certain queries. One of them, the court asked, was how uttering few words against some policemen would amount to spreading hatred (under section 153A of Indian Penal Code) among communities. The single bench of high court justice J B Pardiwala asked public prosecutor Mitesh Amin whether the latter was bringing the police force under the ambit of a community, Amin responded, “up to some extent yes.”
Amin said, “I am making this statement as a public prosecutor given the circumstance that have been recorded since August. There are allegations against police atrocities by the PAAS leaders and there are cases which have been lodged by police against PAAS leaders for attacking police, damaging police stations, properties among others. One of the policemen lost his life.”
Therefore, Amin concluded, that uttering to “kill four-five policemen” should not be dealt in isolation. On the contrary, the court must take into consideration the entire agitation movement against the government for the past three months. He submitted that Hardik is followed by his community and his words are crucial which will have impact on public order.
Earlier, it was also argued whether section 124 A (sedition) will be applicable since the alleged remarks is against four-five policemen and not against the government “established by law in India.” Amin argued that “police are an integral part of the government” and hence it has to be treated like that.
On the other hand, Hardik’s lawyer B M Mangukia brushed aside the allegations saying “had the petitioner made a public speech things would have been different. Here is a case where the petitioner whispered these so called remarks to a private person’s ear. It was the media and the private person who telecast and spoke respectively in public and not the petitioner.” He contended that prosecution is stretching the definition of police force as “community” too far.
Following the argument the court reserved the order and said it will pronounce it on October 27. Justice Pardiwala said that he will only look into the case whether there a prima facie case is made out or not.