In yet another jolt to the political career for the newly inducted member of the Congress party and Patidar leader, Hardik Patel, the Supreme court has declined a plea seeking an urgent hearing on his conviction in a riot case Tuesday.
On March 29, the Congress leader had received a major blow from the Gujarat High court, which, by declining his plea seeking the suspension of his conviction in a rioting case in 2015 had put his political aspirations in jeopardy.
Patel had sought the suspension as due to his conviction he is barred under the Representation of People Act, 1951, from contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
Now, with barely two days left for the last date of nomination filing, the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear his plea leaves Hardik Patel in a tight spot. He may have to give up his hopes of contesting from the Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat.
The last day to file nominations before the country goes in for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is April 4.
Patel had moved the Supreme Court on April 1, challenging the Gujarat High Court order rejecting his plea to stay his conviction so that he could contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The matter was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.
“If the conviction is not stayed, the petitioner may lose the right to contest upcoming Lok Sabha elections of 2019,” Patel had reportedly contended in his petition.
The bench comprising justices M M Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha told the counsel appearing for Patel that there was no urgency in hearing the matter as the High Court order was passed in August last year.
With this Supreme Court order, Patel, who had started preparing to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket after joining the party on March 12, may not be able to file his nomination before the last date.
Patel had applied for a stay on his conviction in the rioting case earlier this month. He had led the Patidar agitation in Gujarat in 2015 bringing the State to a standstill to demand reservation for Patidars. Around 9 people had lost their lives in the ensuing violence and the Army had to be deployed to take control of the situation.
Last year, a Sessions Court in Visnagar had found Patel guilty of causing a riot in Mehasana and sentenced him to 2 years in prison. He was convicted of offences of arson and creating ruckus at the office of BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel. Out of 17 accused, only three were found guilty by the court including Hardik Patel. Apart from the jail term, they were also fined Rs 50,000 each. But the court had granted them bail against bonds of Rs 15,000.
Other than the riot case where he has been convicted, Hardik Patel is also facing a sedition case in Gujarat which carries the maximum punishment of life imprisonment. The case was filed after he had called for ‘killing cops’ in 2015. A case of insulting the national flag was also leveled against him, which was later withdrawn.
Soon after the dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were announced, Patel had joined the Congress Party to “serve 125 crore, people of the country”, as claimed by him.