NEW DELHI: With just three days left for filing nomination to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket, Hardik Patel approached the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the Gujarat High Court order rejecting his plea to stay his conviction in the 2015 Visnagar rioting case.
Patel’s petition is likely to mention the case on Tuesday for an urgent hearing and seek a stay of the March 29 order of the High Court which is coming in the way of his contesting the Lok Sabha election. He had started preparations to contest elections after joining the Congress on March 12.
Polling for 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat will be held on April 23. A sessions court at Visnagar in Mehsana district had sentenced Patel to two years’ imprisonment in July 2018 for rioting and arson during the 2015 Patidar quota stir which he led.
The high court in August 2018 suspended the sentence but not the conviction.
Under the election law, a convict facing a jail term of two years or more cannot contest elections unless the conviction is stayed.
In the high court, the state government had submitted that there were 17 FIRs, including two sedition complaints, against Patel who is known for making inflammatory speeches.
The HC had declined the contention of Patel’s lawyers that if the conviction was not stayed, it would cause “irreparable damage” as he intended to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
The court noted that a conviction can be stayed only in rare and exceptional cases, and the case did not fall into that category. He also argued before the HC that his conviction was based on hearsay evidence.
Patel has challenged the HC decision on the grounds that an Appellate Court ought to consider the consequences if the conviction is not suspended.
VVPAT Count: Oppn told to respond to EC
The SC on Monday adjourned a plea by 21 opposition parties seeking 50 per cent VVPAT count and gave them time until April 8 to respond to the EC’s affidavit.
The EC has said that 50 per cent VVPAT slip verification in each Assembly segment of a Lok Sabha constituency would enlarge the time required for counting to about six days.