The Supreme Court Tuesday rejected Hardik Patel’s prayer to urgently hear a petition seeking a stay on his conviction in a 2015 rioting case, dimming the Congress leader’s hopes of contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Patel’s lawyers mentioned his plea before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Mohan M Shantanagoudar, and Navin Sinha, which rejected it. The court pointed out that Patel’s sentence was suspended in August 2018 and asked why he did not challenge the conviction then.
Patel joined the Congress on March 12 and was reportedly preparing to contest from Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat. Gujarat goes to polls on April 23, and April 4 is the last date for filing of nominations.
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In July 2018, a sessions court in Visnagar found Patel guilty in a case of rioting and arson during the 2015 Patidar quota agitation and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment.
On March 29, the Gujarat High Court rejected his plea for stay on the conviction. The state had told the HC that there were as many as 17 FIRs, including two sedition complaints, against Patel. Challenging the HC order, Patel contended that “it was argued at length before the High Court that there is no legal evidence against the petitioner for conviction and the conviction is based on hearsay evidence”. Patel claimed he would suffer “irreparable loss” if the conviction was not stayed as he would not be able to contest the Lok Sabha elections.