Refusing to interfere with a Gujarat High Court order, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel to face trial in connection with his election to the Rajya Sabha in 2017. The petition against Patel has been filed by BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput, who had contested against him and lost.
“Let the trial go on,” said a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul. On October 26, the Gujarat High Court had dismissed Patel’s application questioning the maintainability of Rajput’s petition, paving the way for the trial to begin.
The HC’s decision came after Patel moved the Supreme Court against the order, contending that a decision of the Election Commission cannot be challenged by an election petition. However, the Supreme Court sent the matter back to the high court for a fresh hearing.
The Congress leader was declared the winner in the Rajya Sabha elections after the Election Commission invalidated the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohel and Raghavjee Patel, bringing down the number of votes needed for victory to 44 from 45.
Rajput has challenged the poll panel’s decision to invalidate the votes of the two rebel MLAs. “Had these votes been counted, I would have defeated Patel,” the former Congress leader had said. Rajput has also alleged that Patel had taken Congress MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru before the election and that amounted to “bribing the voters”.