Ahmedabad: A city sessions court today reserved its order on the bail pleas moved by Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and two of his aides in a sedition case.
Additional Sessions Judge N G Dave heard the arguments made by the prosecution and defence on the bail pleas and is likely to decide on them on Friday. Hardik, Dinesh Bambhaniya and Chirag Patel, currently lodged in jail, had filed their bail applications last month.
Besides them, another PAAS member, Ketan Patel is also behind bars in connection with the case. During the arguments today, Hardik’s lawyer B M Mangukiya told the court that the FIR against Hardik and other leaders of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which had spearheading the agitation of Patel community members seeking reservation under OBC quota, was “fabricated and politically motivated”.
He argued that holding the stir does not amount to sedition, as mentioned in the FIR filed against the PAAS leaders by the city crime branch on October 21. The crime branch had charged Hardik and five of his key accomplices under sections 121 (waging war against government), 124 (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity) of IPC.
However, the Gujarat High Court had recently removed section 121, 153-A and 153-B from the FIR while retaining the charge of sedition. Mangukiya alleged that the FIR was filed as a part of a “larger conspiracy” by state government to keep Hardik and other PAAS leaders away from the recently-held local body polls.
The counsel also questioned “legality” of the call interception records of these leaders, which were used as the base by crime branch to press charges against Hardik and others. Mangukiya accused the government of hiding the names of those who had spoken with Hardik and others during the stir “as many of these persons were BJP leaders who have given indirect support to Patel quota movement”.However, the crime branch opposed the bail to Hardik and two others, saying since they are facing serious charges they could tamper with the evidence if released at this stage when investigation is still on.
Public Prosecutor Sudhir Brahmbhatt argued that the FIR was based on substantial evidences collected against PAAS leaders and that there exists no malafied intention behind filing the same. He said all the accused are facing serious charges and evidences collected till date prove their “active involvement” in inciting Patel community youths to resort to violence in order to destabilise the government after holding of the mega rally on August 25, which resulted in state-wide violence.
Countering the ‘larger conspiracy angle’ raised by Mangukiya, Brahmbhatt said such issues can be raised only during the course of trial and not at current stage when investigation is still on. He argued that the call interception issue cannot be brought-in during this stage as the same matter is pending before the High Court which has issued a notice to government recently. The prosecutor pleaded that Hardik and two others should not be released on bail as they could alter the evidences if granted relief.
Besides Hardik, Bambhaniya and Chirag Patel, the FIR also named Ketan Patel, Amrish Patel and Alpesh Kathiria as accused in the case. While Hardik, Bambhaniya, Chirag Patel and Ketan Patel are in jail, Amrish and Alpesh have secured interim relief from arrest from the HC.
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