The Gujarat Government on Wednesday opposed Congress leader Hardik Patel’s petition seeking a stay on his conviction in the Visnagar rioting case and requesting to allow him to contest the elections, saying that he had an “interest in instigating particular communities”.
Hardik’s lawyer IH Syed argued that the evidence presented in the Visnagar Sessions court that convicted him in July 2018 for rioting during the 2015 Patidar quota stir, had multiple discrepancies. However, public prosecutor Mitesh Amin pointed out to the court of Justice AG Uraizee on Wednesday that “it is not necessary to examine minutely the merits of the case (of conviction)”. The case was adjourned to Thursday. Click here for more election news
Hardik figures in the list of star campaigners of the Congress party. Amin argued that the accused has a number of FIRs lodged against him and that he had “an interest in instigating particular communities”. He said a person with such background should not be sent to the Parliament, and hence, not be allowed to contest elections.
In July 2018, the sessions court at Visnagar sentenced Patel to two years’ imprisonment for rioting and arson in Visnagar town during the 2015 Patidar quota stir. The high court granted him bail and suspended his sentence in August 2018, but his conviction was not stayed. Under the Representation of the People Act and a related Supreme Court ruling, a convicted persons cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.
Amin told the court, “Whenever the accused had an opportunity to deliver something on any platform, it can be termed as instigating utterance, seen as an annoyance, further leading to disturbance of law and order. He has no regard for the process of law.”
Hardik’s representatives argued that the prosecution has failed to prove the involvement and complicity of the accused, beyond reasonable doubt. Syed, representing Hardik, said, “Of the 26 witnesses examined, not a single witness has named Hardik Patel as part of unlawful assembly. In such case, what is the ground for conviction?”
Further, Syed pointed out specific instances of discrepancies in the choice of witnesses and their accounts. Concluding his argument, Syed said, “My submission is that there is no legal evidence supporting prosecution. This conviction will cause irreparable damage to the petitioner, by disqualifying him from contesting elections.” Syed prayed that “at least this conviction, at this stage, be stayed”.