In a partial relief to Patel quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel, the Gujarat High Court today dropped the charge of ‘waging war against government’ against him and his five aides but upheld the stringent sedition clause against them.
Justice J B Pardiwala, after hearing the arguments, ordered the removal of three IPC sections in the FIR – section 121 (waging war against government), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity) – against Hardik and his aides.
The court, however, refused to drop IPC sections 124 (sedition) and 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against government), which attract punishment of life imprisonment or up to 10 years.
In October, the city Crime Branch had lodged an FIR against 22-year-old Hardik and five of his close aides under charges of sedition and waging war against the government.
Later, Hardik, Chirag Patel, Dinesh Bambhaniya and Ketan Patel were arrested. They are currently behind bars.
Two other aides of Hardik – Amrish Patel and Alpesh Kathiriya – were not arrested as the high court had granted them interim protection.
In another development, the high court today extended their interim relief from arrest for another 15 days.
This was the second sedition complaint against Hardik after he was booked under the same charge by Surat Police.
In November, Hardik and others moved the high court to set aside the FIR against them, claiming that their protest to seek reservation for Patel community does not amount to “sedition or waging war against government”.
During the arguments on November 2, public prosecutor Mitesh Amin had strongly defended the stand of Crime Branch for slapping stringent charges against the Patel leaders, stating that the FIR is based on the call interceptions made by it.
The Gujarat High Court today dismissed two public interest litigations seeking a direction to allow the voters, whose names were found deleted from electoral rolls during the municipal corporation polls, to cast vote in fresh polling.
The division bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice V M Pancholi said it would not be appropriate to intervene when the election process was underway.
The judges also held that the State Election Commission had followed the rules. They accepted the argument by advocate Mihir Thakor of the SEC that the Commission does not prepare electoral rolls; it only publishes the final voter list prepared by the Election Commission of Indiaafter updating and revision.
“Material effect” of deleted names may not be much as only 1000-odd names were deleted in every ward, as claimed in the PIL, the HC said.
Further, the Constitution does not encourage the court to entertain such PILs when the election process is on, it said, adding that the petitioners can file election petitions after the process is over, making the ECI a party.
Two PILs had been filed on the issue yesterday. In the first one, petitioner advocate K R Koshti had stated that more than one lakh voters in Ahmedabad alone couldn’t vote during the November 22 election to the municipal corporation as their names were deleted by the SEC without prior intimation.
Polling for municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Vadodara was held on that day.
Koshti demanded that all such voters be allowed to cast vote before the date of counting, December 2, and the High Court appoint a judicial commission to investigate the matter.
The second PIL, filed by Hardik Joshi through advocate P S Champaneri, expressed apprehension that such deletions could also occur in the elections to rural/semi-urban local bodies on November 29. The court should pass necessary directions to prevent it, the PIL said.
The Gujarat high court on Thursday upheld a lower court order rejecting a petition filed by an AAP worker against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleged poll code breach in 2014, saying that the magistrate had do so in an appropriate manner.
Justice JB Pardiwala while upholding the lower court order rejected admission of the petition, saying, “I am not impressed with your submission that the magistrate did not follow proper procedure while dismissing your petition.”
He said, “As per my interpretation, the magistrate has power to reject and it was done in an appropriate manner, so I hereby reject it (petition).”
The petition was filed by Aam Aadmi Party worker Nishant Verma against the verdict of the local court, which in May this year had dismissed his plea seeking legal action against Modi for allegedly breaching the poll code last year.
On April 30, last year, when the voting was underway on 26 Lok Sabha seats of Gujarat, Modi, the then Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, had addressed a press conference immediately after he voted in a school at Ranip area of Ahmedabad and displayed his party’s symbol lotus, according to the petition.
Modi also took a selfie from his mobile phone while holding a replica of the party’s symbol — lotus, it said.
Verma had filed the plea before the high court against the order of chief judicial magistrate of Ahmedabad rural court SR Sinh dismissing his plea by holding that the probe of the city Crime Branch, which had filed closure report giving a clean chit to Modi, was just and proper.
The Gujarat High Court today ordered removal of Vadodara district government pleader Raghuvir Pandya over his record as a public prosecutor in the 2002 Best Bakery case.
Mere eligibility is not enough for selection as a district pleader, a chief law officer in the district, but his or her credentials and “institutional integrity” must be assessed, said Justice J B Pardiwala in his order.
Laxman Meghwani and two others had challenged Pandya’s appointment in May. They cited the Supreme Court order against Pandya which had termed him as unfit for the post in view of his performance in the Best Bakery trial.
“The public prosecutor appeared to have acted as defence counsel,” the apex court had said, while ordering fresh probe.
“Prosecutors are… One of judges’ natural counterparts in the trial proceedings,” the High Court said today.
“The issue has a direct impact on the judiciary. It is said that a man is known by the company he keeps. A nation is known by the judiciary it has,” it said.
“The worth of a nation is measured by its judiciary which is seen as the ultimate keeper of a nation’s conscience. Ours is such a judiciary. Let no harm be fall upon the judiciary in any manner,” said Justice Pardiwala.
The court also formed guidelines for appointment of prosecutors and government pleaders. There should be proper consultation among panel members for selection, opinions of district judge and district magistrate should be in written form, and the opinions should be open for judicial scrutiny, it said.
The court further ordered forming of a new panel for the selection of district pleader in Vadodara district court.
Petitioners had pointed out that Pandya’s mishandling of Best Bakery case — related to death of 14 persons at a bakery in Vadodara during 2002 riots — resulted in acquittal of the accused. At a re-trial in Mumbai, most of the accused were convicted.
The Gujarat High Court on Thursday sought a reply from the Election Commission of India to a public interest litigation petition alleging that Gujarat minister of state Shankar Chaudhari holds a bogus MBA degree.
The division bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjaria issued notice to the ECI after the petitioner added the Commission as a party to the PIL. On October 13, the HC had issued notices to Gujarat government, State Election Commission, the minister and the Superintendent of Police of Patan district. It also issued notices to Patan-based Sheth K B Vakil Vividhlaxi Vidyalaya where Chaudhari completed his std 12th in 2011 and the National Institute of Management (NIM) of Vadodara where he got his allegedly bogus MBA degree.
Chaudhari is minister of state for Health and Family Welfare with independent charge of Urban Housing. The petitioner Farsu Goklani is a Patan-based Congress worker. As per the school records obtained under RTI Act, the minister passed std 12th in 2011, but his affidavit before the State Election Commission in 2012 stated that he had completed MBA in the same year (2012) from NIM, the PIL points out.
No institute can grant an MBA within a year of completing the std 12th, and the minister should be prosecuted for providing false information in the affidavit, it says. Chaudhari’s election should be set aside and he should be sacked from the ministry, the PIL demands. Chaudhari, MLA from Vav in Banaskantha district, was made a minister after Anandiben Patel became Chief Minister in May 2014.
The Gujarat High Court Thursday issued notice to Gujarat government and Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) on three petitions challenging the sedition case lodged against PAAS leaders. These petitions have been filed against three of the six persons booked in sedition, including PAAS convener Hardik Patel. Justice J B Pardiwala issued notices on petitions moved by Hardik and his associates Alpesh Kathiria and Amul Patel, whereas the court adjourned the hearing on three similar petitions moved by Dinesh Patel, Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel.
All the six persons, core members of PAAS, have bee booked by the DCB for sedition and “waging war against the government.” These matters will be heard on November 2.
The city Crime Branch on October 21 charged Hardik and other members of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) Chirag, Dinesh, Ketan, Alpesh and Amrish Patel in the case of sedition and waging war against the State government.
However, PAAS leader Amul Patel, whose name was not mentioned in the FIR as an accused but in the transcript of phone interception, has also challenged the Crime Branch’s action, apprehending his arrest.
The six people have been booked under IPC Sections 121 (waging war against the government), 124 (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity).
The city Crime Branch in its FIR against Hardik and five others, said the young leader had allegedly instigated his community to adopt violent means to wage “war against Gujarat government”.
The probe agency had also put transcripts of various telephonic conversations and speeches of PAAS members and Hardik, wherein they had allegedly instigated the agitators of Patel community to wage war against the government.
The complaint was lodged against PAAS leaders for allegedly inciting violence on August 25-26 that erupted in several districts after Hardik’s massive rally held here on August 25.
This is the second case of sedition against Hardik.
The first case was filed by Surat Police for allegedly advising a Patel youth “to kill policemen rather than commit suicide”.
The 22-year-old firebrand leader and his three aides are currently in the custody of city Crime Branch in connection with the second sedition case.
The Gujarat High Court today held that “a prima facie case of sedition” was made out against the Patel quota agitation’s leader Hardik Patel booked by Surat police for advising a youth to “kill the police rather than committing suicide.”
Prima facie, it could be said that the words spoken or the statement alleged to have been made by the applicant in the presence of the media…Would amount to exhortation to the public,” Justice J B Pardiwala said.
“…More particularly (it would amount to an exhortation to) the members of Patel community to resort to violence or create public disorder with a view to subverting the government by law established in the state of Gujarat,” the HC said refusing to entertain a plea seeking quashing of the FIR.
“The applicant may not have stated in so many words that the members of Patel community should overthrow the lawfully established government of Gujarat by force or violence, but when the attack is on the police force which is one of the most important agencies of the state government, then a prima facie case under section 124-A of IPC could be said to be made out,” the order said.
Hardik’s father Bharat Patel had filed a petition seeking to quash the FIR filed against his son.
“The demand for reservation for the members of the Patel community by itself is not an offence. It is open to the members of the Patel community to seek reservation, if available in law or if the state government, by way of a policy decision, deems fit to provide,” said the HC.
“It is also open to demand reservation by peaceful means, ceaselessly fighting public opinion that might be against them and opposing those who desired the continuance of the existing order of the society and the government,” added the HC order.
“What is not permissible…Is any act which has the effect of bringing or which attempts to bring into hatredness or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law,” the HC held.
Surat police had also invoked the charges under sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505-2 (to incite one community against another) and 506 (criminal intimidation) under IPC.
However, the High Court today quashed these three offences, holding that the police force cannot be termed as `community’, as submitted by the prosecution.
“Although it could be said that the members of the Patel community have been provoked, but such provocation has nothing to do with any other religion, race or linguistic or regional group or community. The police force of the state cannot be brought within the purview of the term community,” the judge said.
On Hardik’s defence that his statement at best reflected his injured feelings towards the police force, the HC noted that the law and order situation had deteriorated to a considerable extent due to the agitators and “many innocent persons lost their lives which included a police officer”.
“Many police stations, public buses, were set on fire. Extensive damage was caused to the government properties.
“In this background, it would be appropriate to infer at this primary stage from the words spoken by the applicant that the same was intended and it did bring the government in the contempt with likelihood of eruption of violence and public disorder,” said the HC.
Hardik, the 22-year-old Patel leader, had on October 3 allegedly advised a Surat-based youth from his community to kill the policemen rather than ending his own life.
“If you have so much courage…Then go and kill a couple of policemen. Patels never commit suicide,” Hardik allegedly told Vipul Desai who had announced that he would commit suicide in support of the quota agitation.
Hardik had visited Desai’s house accompanied by a team of a news channel which broadcast the conversation later.
The sedition case was filed by Surat police almost 15 days after his controversial statement.
Ahmedabad police too have filed a sedition case against Hardik and he is now in the custody of city crime branch.
Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, arrested by the city crime branch on the charges of sedition and waging war against the government, today filed a plea in the Gujarat High Court seeking to have the FIR against him quashed.
The petition, filed by his lawyer B M Mangukia, said the First Information Report was vague and was only aimed at suppressing the agitation of the Patel community for reservation in OBC category. His actions did not amount to sedition or waging war against the government, it said. The plea is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.
This is the second FIR against Hardik where he has been accused of sedition (under section 124-A of IPC). Earlier, Surat police had booked him for sedition for allegedly advising a Patel youth to kill policemen rather than committing suicide. His petition seeking to scrap that FIR is already before the High Court. Ahmedabad police’s crime branch filed a fresh FIR for sedition against Hardik and five of his associates after taking his custody from Surat police.
As per the FIR, Hardik and others allegedly incited the people to resort to violence after the Patel community’s massive rally here on August 25. In a related development, the High Court today issued a notice to Gujarat government on petitions of three close aides Hardik’s — Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel and Dinesh Patel — who too have sought to quash the same FIR.
Justice J B Pardiwala issued the notice to the state government and adjourned the hearing to October 29. These three and Hardik are currently in the custody of city crime branch.
The Gujarat High Court today adjourned the hearing on a plea alleging election code violation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Justice J B Pardiwala posted the hearing to October 27 after public prosecutor Mitesh Amin sought time.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Nishant Verma moved the high court against the verdict of a local court which in May dismissed his plea seeking legal action against Modi for allegedly breaching the poll code on April 30, 2014.
Chief judicial magistrate of Ahmedabad rural court S R Sinh had dismissed his plea, upholding the clean chit given to Modi by the city crime branch.
As voting was underway on April 30, 2014, for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, Modi, then the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, addressed a press conference after casting his vote in a school at Ranip area here. He then also displayed his party’s symbol, lotus.
The Election Commission then ordered the city crime branch to conduct a probe.
A day after he was arrested, Patel quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel on Tuesday moved a petition before the Gujarat High Court seeking to set aside the sedition charges filed against him in Surat.
Hardik’s father Bharat Patel moved the plea on behalf of his son through his advocate B M Mangukiya and stated that no offence can be attributed to the Patel leader. “No offence can be disclosed by spoken words of Hardik and no overt act can be attributed to him by those words, thus no offence has been made out,” the plea said.
The plea is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday. A case of sedition was filed against Hardik for his alleged controversial remarks instigating his community youth to kill cops instead of committing suicide. Hardik, who was detained by Rajkot rural police ahead of the India-South Africa One-Day International on Sunday as he had threatened to disrupt the match, was arrested on Monday by the Rajkot rural police for allegedly insulting the national flag. Just after he was granted bail Monday evening by a local court in the flag case, Surat police had arrested him in the sedition complaint which was filed in that city.
Surat city DCP Makrand Chauhan had filed a complaint against Hardik in Amroli police station for advising a Patel youth to kill policemen. The sedition case was filed under section 124(A) of IPC at Amroli Police Station in Surat under which any accused, if convicted, can be sentenced to maximum of life imprisonment, while the minimum sentence is of three years. The section reads, “whoever, by words, either spoken or written..brings hatred or contempt, or excites disaffection towards the Government shall be punishable with imprisonment for life…or with minimum imprisonment up to three years.”
Other IPC sections included in the FIR against Hardik are section 115 (Abetment of offence), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups, 505-2 (incite one community against another) and 506 (criminal intimidation). The 22-year-old emerging Patel leader had on October 3 allegedly advised a Surat-based youth from his community to kill cops rather than ending his life.
“If you have so much courage…then go and kill a couple of policemen. Patels never commit suicide,” Hardik had allegedly told the youth Vipul Desai, who had announced that he would commit suicide in support of the agitation. Hardik had visited Desai’s house accompanied by a team of a news channel which had aired the conversation later.
The quota stir leader has been hogging the limelight since the August 25 ‘mega-rally’ of Patels in Ahmedabad and the subsequent violence across Gujarat in which 10 people were killed.