Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s hopes of contesting the Lok Sabha election on a Congress ticket receded Friday when the Gujarat High Court rejected his petition seeking a stay on his July 2018 conviction for rioting and arson.
Hardik, who joined the Congress on March 12, is set to move the Supreme Court but he is running out of time because April 4 is the last date for filing nominations in Gujarat which votes on April 23.
Hardik’s lawyer Salim Saiyed said: “We will file a petition seeking a stay on Hardik’s conviction before the Supreme Court on Monday. Although it takes up to eight to ten days on an average to get a petition listed for hearing, we will be expressing our urgency to the court.”
Rejecting Hardik’s petition seeking a stay on the conviction awarded to him by a sessions court, Justice A G Uraizee took into account the arguments made earlier by Advocate General Kamal Trivedi, who appeared for the Gujarat government, and cited 17 FIRs against Hardik and his “criminal antecedents”.
The High Court also took note of “pending cases at different stages in various courts”.
A sessions court in Visnagar in Mehsana district had sentenced Hardik to two years in prison for rioting and arson in Visnagar town in 2015 during the Patidar quota agitation. In August last year, he was granted bail by the High Court but it did not stay his conviction.
Under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and a related Supreme Court ruling, a convicted person cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.
After the HC rejected his plea, Hardik tweeted: “We are not amongst the ones to run away in fear. Will continue to raise the voice of the masses with truth, non-violence and honesty. Congress party that serves the masses will form the government. I will campaign for Congress not only in Gujarat, but across the country. My only mistake has been that I did not bow down to BJP. This is the result of fighting the ones in power.”
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Union Minister and BJP Gujarat general secretary Mansukh Mandaviya said: “BJP has always respected the Constitution. BJP never stops anybody from fighting elections. The decision that Hardik cannot fight the election is that of the High Court. High Court is a Constitutional institution and everybody has to respect its decision. It has been the Congress tradition to insult and undermine Constitutional institutions… if the court verdict is in their favour then they accept it, but if it is against then they defame Constitutional institutions.”