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

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

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".

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w