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SC deals blow to Hardik Patel's poll ambition

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 02, 2019 18:00 IST
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In a setback to Congress leader Hardik Patel, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to accord urgent hearing to his plea seeking stay on his conviction in the 2015 rioting case.

The denial virtually dashed his hopes of contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Gujarat's Jamnagar constituency as the last date for filing nominations for all the 26 Parliamentary seats in the state is April 4, and the polling is scheduled for April 23.

The apex court questioned Patel's counsel for filing the plea belatedly and said there was no urgency to list the matter as the Gujarat high court had declined to stay his conviction in August last year.

 

Patel joined the Congress on March 12 and failed to get relief on March 29 from the high court which dismissed his application seeking stay on the conviction in the case in which he was sentenced to two year jail term.

Under the election law -- The Representation of the People Act 1951, and a related Supreme Court judgment -- a convict facing a jail term of two years or more can not contest polls unless the conviction is stayed.

Patel, 25, moved the apex court on Monday challenging the Gujarat high court order.

On Tuesday, his plea was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.

Refusing to accord urgent hearing on the petition, the bench, also comprising Justices M M Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha, said: "The order was passed in August 2018. What is the urgency now?"

In July last year, Patel was sentenced to two year jail by a sessions court at Visnagar in Mehsana district for rioting and arson during the Patidar quota stir which he led.

The high court in August 2018 had suspended his sentence but not the conviction.

"What were you doing since August last year? Why did you not challenge it then? And now you suddenly wake up and want an urgent hearing. If you cannot help yourself, we also cannot help you," the bench told his counsel.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Gujarat, also questioned the delay in filing the petition and said the high court had passed an order in August last year but Patel has "suddenly realised that he will contest elections".

Patel's counsel said that it was on March 29 this year that the high court refused to stay his conviction in the case. He sought urgent listing of his plea saying the last date of filing nomination for the polls was April 4.

The counsel said Patel's prayer for staying his conviction in the case was not accepted by the high court.

"When you have suffered conviction, there is no urgency now," the bench said.

In the high court, the state government had said that there were 17 FIRs including two sedition complaints against Patel.

The high court had declined the contention of Patel's lawyers that if the conviction was not stayed, it will cause "irreparable damage" as he intended to contest the Lok Sabha election.

In its order, the high court had noted that a conviction can be stayed only in rare and exceptional cases, and the case did not fall into that category. 

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