Skip to main content

Why was Hardik Patel's plea to suspend his conviction in a 2015 rioting case rejected?

Hardik Patel with Rahul Gandhi
By RK Misra*
While the Apex Court gave relief to a Gujarat Congress MLA regarding his disqualification, it denied urgent hearing of a plea from Hardik Patel of the same party, bringing into question his ability to contest the polls. In the space of just 24 hours, two leaders from Gujarat who looked for succour from the Supreme Court were left with different expectations.
In the first case, the court on April 1 stayed the Central Election Commission's (CEC) decision notifying the Talala assembly constituency seat in Gujarat as vacant and declaring by-polls there along with the Lok Sabha polls.
There was hurry in the process of law at all levels in disqualifying Congress legislator Bhagabhai Barad of Talala. In the second case, the Apex Court denied urgent hearing of a plea by Congress leader Hardik Patel to suspend his conviction in a 2015 rioting case and thereby put paid to his ambitions of contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
It all began in 1995 when an FIR was lodged against Barad which accused him of illegal mining of limestone worth Rs 2.83 crore in Sutrapada area. Almost 24 years later, on March 1, 2019, he was convicted by a court under Section 379 of the IPC to two years and nine months imprisonment. He was disqualified as an MLA by Gujarat assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi on March 5.
Barad challenged his conviction, and the principal district judge of Veraval town in Gir Somnath district, MM Babi, stayed it on March 9 and even allowed his plea seeking suspension of the sentence as well as bail until the pendency of the appeal. Soon after, the leader of the Congress Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, Paresh Dhanani, met the Speaker and presented the Court order suspending his conviction alongside a memorandum seeking his reinstatement.
Apparently in a tearing hurry to get the Congress MLA out of the way, the BJP government moved the High Court on March 11, challenging the stay. On March 15, a single judge bench of Justice Sonia Gokani set aside the stay and asked the sessions court to once again apply its mind, noting that lower courts should stay convictions in only rare cases. However, the hearing in the sessions court could not take place as scheduled on March 25 as the judge went on leave till April 1.
Barad then approached a division bench of the High Court on March 11 but failed to get any relief. The bench ruled that conviction automatically leads to disqualification, so the seat stood vacated. Post this order, the by-election was to be held on April 23 along with the Lok Sabha elections to 26 seats in Gujarat. 
On March 28, Barad moved the Supreme Court, where a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi along with Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna stayed the by-poll and issued a notice to the Election Commission.
The court took exception to the unusual hurry by the poll body in notifying the election and without taking notice of the stay then in existence. “How can you declare the seat to be vacant on March 10 when his conviction was stayed on March 7?” the bench asked.
While the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in Gujarat showed great speed in the case of the Congress legislator, the same alacrity was not witnessed in the case of its own ministers. In June 2013, Union water resources minister Babubhai Bokhiria, who was sentenced to three years imprisonment by a Porbandar court in a Rs 54-crore illegal limestone mining case along with others did not face any disqualification. His conviction was also stayed by the sessions court. But the state government did not challenge it.
After the complaint against Bokhiria in 2006, he had left the country and was declared a proclaimed offender. The Porbandar police arrested him in 2007. The High Court later released him on bail. He contested the Vidhan Sabha elections in December 2012, defeated Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia and was made a cabinet minister in the Modi government.
Bhaga Barad, Dilip Sanghani, Parsottam Solanki, Babu Bokhiria
In November 2014, Bokhiria was acquitted in the case. At one point, he faced numerous criminal charges but the taint did not prevent him from rising in the ranks.
Then, there is the 2008 case of the Rs 400-crore fisheries scam when Dilip Sanghani and Parsottam Solanki were ministers in the Modi cabinet in Gujarat. Solanki, then minister of state for fisheries, and currently state minister for animal husbandry and cow protection, had granted fishing contracts for 58 reservoirs to his favourites. Sanghani was then agriculture minister.
There were allegations of corruption by both of them and an aggrieved contractor, Maradia, knocked the doors of the High Court, which then scrapped the Rs 2.4 crore contract granted by the minister. A repeat tender fetched Rs 45 crore. Maradia claimed that the loss to the exchequer over ten years was Rs 400 crore.
Maradia again approached the High Court seeking prosecution of Solanki. The matter turned controversial in 2012 when governor Kamla Beniwal granted sanction to prosecute Solanki. Wonder of all wonders, the government of anti-corruption crusader Narendra Modi, challenged her decision in the High Court but lost.
The case continues to be in litigation limping along at a snail’s pace. In December 2018, the High Court refused to quash lower court proceedings against the two and ordered them to appear before the Gandhinagar court in two weeks. Solanki, ailing with kidney complications, has not done so till date.
Solanki, incidentally, also figured in the Srikrishna Commission report on the 1993 Mumbai riots where he allegedly led the mobs. He is also a former TADA detainee but Modi had no qualms keeping him as a minister in his government. A warrant of arrest for non-appearance before a court is out for a sitting minister of the BJP government in Gujarat, yet not a fly stirs among the ruling elite crusading against corruption!
In the second case, the Supreme Court denied urgent hearing of a plea of Hardik Patel to suspend his conviction in a 2015 rioting case so that he could contest the Lok Sabha elections. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and also comprising of Justices MM Shantanagoudar and Navin Sinha said there was no urgency in hearing the matter as the High Court order was passed in August last year. “The order was passed in August 2018. What is the urgency now?”, the bench said while refusing to give urgent hearing on the petition.
Hardik had moved the court after his plea for stay was rejected by Gujarat High Court last week. He was awarded a two-year jail term by a Visnagar court in July 2018 in connection with mob violence at BJP MLA Rishikesh Patel’s office in July 2015.
According to Hardik’s lawyer, he was not even present at the site of the violence but was held guilty under an Apex Court order that said that those individuals or organisations spearheading movements will be held accountable in cases of violence.
It is obvious that there are different strokes for different people under the BJP rule!
---
*Senior Gujarat-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.com/

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure

Custodial death of Muslim youth: Govt of India told to ratify UN convention on torture

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), Hooghly, West Bengal, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has drawn to the custodial death of a Muslim youth following his torture in police custody after registering a "false case" based on manufactured records. Seeking "proper investigation" the whole incident, Roy in his plea insists, the incident legitimizes his organisations' long-standing demand "for immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment." Text : Here I want to draw your kind attention to one incident of custodial torture by the Deganga police personnel and the subsequent custodial death of one Muslim man from the Other Backward Class community in Dum Dum Central Correctional Home. The name o

This Maoist justified US, western Europe's anti-Soviet stance, even Bhindranwale

By Harsh Thakor*  A glaring example of the extent to which those seeking to identify themselves as revolutionaries can go in making odd compromises with those normally considered as “class enemies” in Marxist jargon is late Kondapalli Seetharamiah. Few know that this Maoist organiser two decades ago was so enamoured by the Chinese three worlds theory that he called for a united front with the United States and other western countries against what he considered Soviet social imperialism! This wasn’t the only “compromise” Seetharamiah made during his career as a revolutionary. On Punjab he took a most eclectical stand of supporting Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thus soft-pedalling the terrorist Khalistani movement. Among his other opportunist alliances, about which few are aware of, include support to the Akalis in Punjab, on one hand, and the NTR Telugu Desam regime in Andhra Pradesh, on the other – all part of his anti-Congress thrust. Also known as KS, this Maoist started his career as