No relief for Hardik Patel in sedition case; SC says plea will be considered after completion of probe

New Delhi(PTI): Supreme Court on Friday rejected bail to Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and asked Gujarat government to conclude its investigation within 45 days.

Hardik Patel

Supreme Court said that the plea will be considered after completion of probe. However, the court has asked Gujarat Police not to file charge sheet in sedition case without its permission and posts the case for hearing on January 5.

The city Crime Branch had 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.

The plea of Patel challenging the invocation of sedition charge against him for allegedly inciting a fellow activist to ‘beat up or kill’ Gujarat police men instead of committing suicide was referred by a Supreme Court bench to another bench on Wednesday.

A bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy, which heard Patel’s lawyer Kapil Sibal for over half-an-hour, merely had said “we will send it to another bench” but did not assign any reason. The decision was taken after both the judges discussed with each other for nearly 2-3 minutes after Sibal concluded his arguments that the charge of sedition was not made out against his 22-year-old client.

Invoking charges including sedition, the state police had said in its FIR that Hardik had exhorted activist Vipul Desai not to commit suicide but rather beat or kill 2-3 policemen.

Referring to constitutional schemes on freedom of speech and expression, Sibal said the question is whether the alleged statement disturbed the “public order” or related to “incitement to commit an offence”. He also referred to the legal positions prevalent in the United Kingdom and the USA and said that the offence of sedition has been abolished in England.

So far as the USA is concerned, various case laws suggest that the offence of sedition cannot be invoked by merely considering the “word of mouth” and there has to be a proximate relationship between the statement and the consequence, the senior advocate said.

Sibal had sought urgent hearing of Hardik’s plea and said the alleged incident took place on October 3, the FIR was registered on October 18 and as a matter of fact no incident as a consequence of the statement took place. He also referred to statements by various persons and said the charge of sedition has not been invoked on them, whereas Hardik was forced to face the charge.

The six people were 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 under serious charges of sedition, 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 again.