The Supreme Court has declined an urgent hearing of Patidar leader Hardik Patel's plea seeking a suspension of his conviction in a 2015 Vispur rioting case. He had moved the top court in order to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The top court, while declining his petition, asked Patel why did he not come earlier. “You allowed the order to attain finality. We can't help you if you don't help yourself,” the Supreme Court said, adding "There is no urgency as he was convicted way back in 2015, says Supreme Court."
Patel, 25, had started preparations to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket after joining the party on March 12 and the last date for filing of nominations is April 4. Polling for 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat will be held on April 23.
The Sessions Court at Visnagar in Mehsana district sentenced Patel to two years' imprisonment last July for rioting and arson in Visnagar town in 2015 during the Patidar quota stir which he led. The high court in August 2018 suspended the sentence but not the conviction.
Under the Election Law - Representation of the People Act and a related Supreme Court ruling -- a convict facing a jail term of two years or more cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.
In the high court, the state government had submitted that there were 17 FIRs including two sedition complaints against Patel who is known for making inflammatory speeches.
The high court had declined the contention of Patel's lawyers that if the conviction was not stayed, it will cause "irreparable damage" as he intended to contest the Lok Sabha election.
In the order, the high court noted that a conviction can be stayed only in rare and exceptional cases, and the case did not fall into that category.
(With PTI inputs)