On Tuesday, the Supreme Court stayed the conviction of Gujarat Congress’ working president Hardik Patel in a court case involving rioting and vandalism during the Patidar quota agitation in Visnagar, Gujarat, in 2015.
Patel was sentenced to two years in jail in July 2018 by a sessions court in Visnagar, Mehsana district, for rioting and arson in Visnagar town during the Patidar quota demonstrations he spearheaded in 2015. The Gujarat High Court stayed his sentencing but not his conviction in August 2018.
Supreme Court stays conviction of Congress leader Hardik Patel until the appeals are decided, in rioting and arson during the Patidar quota stir, saying that concerned High Court should have stayed the conviction— ANI (@ANI) April 12, 2022
(file pic) pic.twitter.com/OmFIztatVo
In April 2019, Hardik Patel petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse the Gujarat High Court’s ruling, demanding that the conviction be stayed so that he may participate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Patel was prevented from contesting in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections because a criminal serving a sentence of two years or more is not eligible to contest polls.
Senior counsel Maninder Singh, who represented Patel before the Supreme Court, maintained that denying his client the right to contest elections violates his right to free speech and that the state government is abusing its police powers.
On the other side, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta emphasised that the case must be determined in accordance with criminal law standards. He further stated that there is one very severe case against Patel under Section 395 of the IPC.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to stay his sentence, Patel is now able to compete in the Gujarat Assembly election of 2022. The tenure of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly will end on February 18, 2023. The previous assembly elections took place in December of 2017. The next term’s elections will be held in December 2022 to elect 182 members to the Assembly.