NEW DELHI :
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain Congress leader Hardik Patel’s plea for an urgent hearing of his petition against the conviction order passed by Gujarat high court in a 2015 rioting case.
Patel had been sentenced to two years in jail by a sessions court on 25 July in a four-year-old case of rioting and arson at Visnagar town.
The high court on 29 March refused to stay the conviction and said that a stay can be granted only in exceptional cases and this case does not fall under that ambit. However, the Gujarat high court’s Justice S.H Vohra granted bail to Hardik Patel until his appeal is next heard.
A Supreme Court bench, comprising Justices Arun Misra, M.M. Shatanagouda and Navin Sinha, said there was no urgency to hear the matter as the Gujarat high court had rejected his plea to stay the conviction last year. The apex court said that as there is a stay on his sentence there seems to be no apparent need to hear the matter out of turn.
“The order was passed in August 2018. What is the urgency now?" Justice Mishra asked the counsels appearing for Hardik Patel.
The denial of early hearing could dilute the chances of Patel’s bid to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. His case is not likely to be heard in the coming days, as Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is hearing constitutional matters.
Gujarat goes to polls in the third phase of elections on 23 April.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Patel, submitted before the court that the petitioner is a Congress leader and if the conviction is not stayed it will cause irreparable loss to him. The petition also said that the numerous first information reports (FIRs) filed against the quota leader have been done with a “view to suppress the voice of the masses".
A person facing conviction and punishment for jail term of two years or more cannot contest elections, according to the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the Supreme Court judgement of July 2013 in the Lily Thomas vs. Union of India case.