June 15, 2021 12:23:44 am
Eight months after he was convicted by a trial court in a case of rioting dating back to 2007, Raghavji Patel, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Jamnagar (rural) constituency, got relief as the Jamnagar district and sessions court on Monday set aside judgement of the trial court delivered in October last year.
The court of additional sessions judge TR Desai pronounced its verdict on an appeal filed by Patel and four others against the judgement delivered by the magisterial court of Dhrol on October 13, 2020.
“The honourable court gave Patel the benefit of doubt and allowed his appeal. The court also allowed the appeal of four other accused in the case,” advocate Manoj Anadkat who was representing the BJP MLA, told The Indian Express.
HJ Zala, judicial magistrate (first class) of Dhrol, had found the MLA and four others guilty of violating Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), as well as section 3(1) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and sentenced them to six months imprisonment.
The court had also imposed a Rs 10,000 fine on the MLA and the four other convicts. The others who were convicted included Narendrasinh Jadeja, former president of Dhrol taluka panchayat, Karansinh Jadeja, Jayesh Bhatt and Jitendra Shrimali. However, the JMFC court had acquitted Shabbir Chavda, Lakhdhirsinh Jadeja and Pancha Varu for want of evidence.
After pronouncing its judgement, the JMFC court had suspended the operation of the sentence for a month to allow the convicts to move the higher forum.
According to the prosecution’s case, in 2007, Patel, then a sitting MLA of the Congress, went to the government hospital in Dhrol town to submit a memorandum. He and his supporters forced their way into the office of the doctor there while others vandalised the premises. Dhrol police booked the MLA and seven others on the basis of a complaint filed by the doctor.
The trial was fast-tracked after the Supreme Court directed expeditious disposal of criminal cases involving legislators. While the case was pending, Patel defected to the BJP in 2017.
Months before the JMFC court delivered its verdict, the state government had moved a plea, seeking withdrawal of the case and termination of criminal proceedings against the MLA. However, the trial court had trashed the government plea, stating such applications couldn’t be entertained at a late stage in proceedings.
Patel expressed happiness over the verdict on Monday and thanked the court.
“I thank the court for doing justice to me and also thank it for deciding my appeal in a speedier manner. My argument that the local leaders of Dhrol and I had not indulged in any illegal act stands vindicated. All we had done was to go to the hospital to make a representation to the superintendent about inconveniences faced by the public and negligence of the government,” the MLA told The Indian Express.
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