BJP ‘dry cleaning’? Gujarat HC quashes non-bailable warrant against Hardik Patel
A case was filed against Patel in 2015 for 'waging war against the country' and 'criminal conspiracy' in leading a patidar agitation against the BJP. Then, last year, he joined the BJP!
In a significant development, the Gujarat High Court has nullified the non-bailable arrest warrant issued against BJP MLA Hardik Patel under Section 124(A) (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), more than three years after a trial court initially issued it.
The arrest warrant was quashed after Patel failed to appear before the court, and the prosecution (for the Gujarat government) filed no objection to the quashing of the warrant.
The case against Patel was filed in 2015, with him being accused of waging war against the country and of criminal conspiracy in leading the patidar agitation.
As the leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Patel had then led an anti-BJP movement across Gujarat. He later joined the Indian National Congress and served as convenor and working president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) — before joining the BJP in June 2022.
The FIR against Patel pertained to the violence that occurred during the Maha Kranti protest rally organised by the PAAS at the GMDC Ground on 25 August 2015.
Citing a Supreme Court directive that had ordered all sedition trials to be put on hold, Patel’s counsel Hardik Lokhandwala had requested quashing of the warrant. The Supreme Court is currently looking at the constitutional validity of Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises sedition.
In light of the apex court's directive, the Gujarat High Court decided that maintaining an arrest warrant in a trial that had already been stayed would serve no purpose, reported Gujarat media. Quashing the warrant accordingly, Justice Sandeep Bhatt said:
"In light of the conflicting arguments presented in court, without delving into the other merits of the case, it is notable that both parties agree that the impugned order can be set aside.
"Also, it must be noted that the matter concerning the validity of these sections is currently under review by the apex court, and taking into account the nature of the prayers put forth in the present petition, it is appropriate to grant the present petition."