New Delhi. Patidar leader Hardik Patel moved the Supreme Court today, challenging the Gujarat High Court order, which declined to stay his conviction so that he can contest the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to start in ten days. The lower court at Mehsana in Gujarat had sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment last July, for rioting and arson in 2015, during the Patidar quota protests.
The High Court in August 2018 had suspended Hardik Patel’s sentence but not the conviction. On Friday, the court declined to cancel his conviction.
Under the Representation of the People Act, a convict facing a jail term of two years or more cannot contest unless the conviction is stayed.
“My only fault is that I did not bow down before the BJP. This is the result of fighting the government,” said the 25-year-old Patidar leader, who had led the quota stir. He said that he will campaign for the Congress – the party he joined earlier this month – across the country.
“We will not get scared. We will keep raising the concerns of the common man with truth, non-violence and honesty. We will ensure that the Congress forms a government. For the party, I will campaign in Gujarat and across the country,” he said after the court setback last week.
The Gujarat government on March 20 opposed stay on Hardik Patel’s conviction and sought time to produce more documents related to his petition, seeking cancellation of his conviction. The court granted the government’s counsel time till March 26 to submit the documents.
After submitting the documents, the state government told the court that Hardik Patel was a habitual offender and there are several cases against him in various police stations. The public prosecutor had requested for more time from the court to submit additional documents.
The Congress leader’s lawyer had opposed this and argued before the court that the Gujarat government was wasting time. It is a race against time for Hardik Patel as the last date for filing nominations is April 4.