The Supreme Court today asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist it on the a proach to be adopted in dealing with cases where public property has been damaged in large scale, as it heard a case against quota stir leader Hardik Patel. It also directed the Gujarat police to provide Hardik an English translation of its charge sheet filed in the case against him and others for allegedly instigating the Patel community members to kill policemen.
A bench comprising Justices J S Khehar and C Nagappan asked the state police to do the needful on or before January 27 and ordered listing of Hardik’s plea for hearing on February 3. The bench also asked the Attorney General, appearing for Gujarat, to assist it on the approach to be adopted in dealing with cases where public property was damaged on a large scale.
During the brief hearing, Hardik’s counsel alleged that the English version of the charge sheet has not been provided to him and moreover, the police has supplied a password-protected CD of the video footage to him without the password. The court asked the police to give him the password also.
Earlier, the court had allowed Gujarat police to file a charge sheet in the case in which it was alleged that Hardik had instigated the community members to kill policemen and adopted violent means to “wage war against Gujarat government”.
The apex court’s order had come when Rohatgi had sought permission to file the charge sheet on the ground that if it was not filed, the accused will be entitled to get bail. The court had refused to look into the draft charge sheet of the police.
Besides the present case, the apex court is also seized with another plea of Hardik challenging the High Court’s decision declining to quash the sedition charge invoked against him and others in a case lodged for allegedly attacking places like police stations in the state.
The state police had lodged the case in October against 22-year-old Hardik and five of his close aides on the charge of sedition and waging war against the government. Later, Hardik, Chirag Patel, Dinesh Bambhaniya and Ketan Patel were arrested and are currently behind bars.
Two other Hardik aides, Amrish Patel and Alpesh Kathiriya, were not arrested as the high court had granted them interim protection.
The High Court ordered the removal of three IPC sections in the FIR – sections 121 (waging war against government), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity) – against Hardik and five of his aides.
It, 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 his second plea, Hardik has challenged the High Court’s decision declining to quash the sedition charge invoked against him and others in a case lodged for allegedly attacking places like police stations in the state.
In his plea, Hardik has claimed that the charges have wrongly been invoked against him as there was no conspiracy to wage war against the government and, at best, it is the case of use of “intemperate language” which can be tried under some other penal provisions.