Ahmed Patel case marred with controversy as important documents go missing and hearing mysteriously gets scheduled early

"Someone seems to be over anxious in this case. We would like to know from the registry how this matter got listed," a bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna commented over Ahmed Patel's case being listed on a day it was not supposed to.

The Gujarat High Court has ordered a magisterial enquiry after important documents of the petition submitted by BJP leader Balasntsingh Rajput against the election of Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha were reported missing. The absence of files came to notice while Rajput was being cross-examined by the lawyer of Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Indian Express reports.

Justice Bela Trivedi has directed the registrar general (judicial) to look into this matter and submit a report in a sealed cover. The court, according to the report, found about the missing files when counsel B B Naik appearing with advocate P S Champaneri, representing Ahmed Patel, sought a copy of the petition during cross-examination of Rajput. After verification of the entire file, it was noticed that the petition and summons produced along with the list at exhibit number 30 were not in the file.

When Justice Trivedi inquired about the matter, registry officials said that they had received a request from Patel’s advocate on January 24, asking for the simple copy of entire matter. Following which, a copy was furnished to advocate’s clerk, a person named Abdul Shaikh. The registry officials also said that Patel’s advocate had asked for a photocopy of the petition memo along with all annexures on September 15, last year, and again on January 21.

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An election petition was filed by Balwantsinh Rajput in Gujarat High court challenging Elections Commission’s decision of invalidating of two votes, which had led to Patel’s victory and Rajput’s defeat in Gujarat Rajya Sabha election. Balwasingh Rajput has alleged Congres leader of indulging in malpractices such as bribery to win the elections. Ahmed Patel has so far moved both High Court and Supreme Court, demanding to quash of the election petition, but has not found success anywhere.

Rajput, in his petition, had challenged the election commission’s decision to invalidate the votes of two rebel MLAs. He had contended that had the votes been allowed, he (Rajput) would have defeated Ahmed Patel.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court directed Gujarat High court to initiate a trial against Patel, following which on January 13, issues were framed against Patel. SC had put the final date of hearing of the case in February.

“Since, the said document namely the copy of the Election Petition along with summons produced by respondent no.1 (Patel) along with list at Exhibit 30 is an important document, which is found to be missing from the file, an inquiry in this regard is required to be held in the matter” Justice Trivedi observed. She has asked registrar general HD Suthar to conduct the enquiry, She orally also told officials that no one can be allowed to touch the files, as the matter is highly sensitive.

The judge has given a week’s time to the registrar general to carry out the inquiry and has postponed the next hearing till February 8th.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday expressed surprise over the hearing of the same election petition, which was earlier slated to be held on a non-miscellaneous day but came to hearing on the first day of the month, a miscellaneous day.

“Someone seems to be over anxious in this case. We would like to know from the registry how this matter got listed,” a bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna commented. Patel’s lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi also expressed surprise of the matter and said that they were unaware about it too.

Conventionally, cases which require a detailed hearing (non-miscellaneous) are scheduled between Tuesday to Thursday, and matters which don’t require a lengthy hearing (miscellaneous) are scheduled on Monday and Friday. Now, the apex court has set the hearing date for Patel’s plea on February 13, which is a non-miscellaneous day, as the case requires a long hearing.

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