Surat: In a relief to Gujarat BJP MLA Hardik Patel, a magistrate’s court in Surat city of Gujarat on Friday acquitted him in a six-year-old case of delivering a political speech in violation of the permission granted by the authorities ahead of the December 2017 assembly polls.
Judicial Magistrate Supreet Kaur Gaba acquitted Patel and one Jignesh Vaghasiya, who had taken permission to hold a rally from the district collector at that time.
It was alleged that though the then district collector had granted permission for a “non-political” rally in Sarthana area of Surat city on December 3, 2017, nearly a week before the assembly polls. But Patel, a former Patidar quota agitation leader, violated the condition and delivered a “political” speech at the rally.
As per the condition number 14, the collector had made it clear that no speaker at the rally will speak in support or in opposition of any political party or poll candidate.
After Patel, who was not affiliated to any party and was heading quota outfit Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti at that time, delivered his speech at the rally, Surat police lodged an FIR against him and Vaghasiya under relevant sections of the Gujarat Police Act.
The police alleged that Patel and Vaghasiya, the rally organiser, had violated the condition by delivering a political speech at the rally. Hardik was arrested in January 2019 and chargesheet was filed within days after his arrest.
During the hearing, Patel’s lawyer Yashwantsinh Vala argued that the prosecution did not provide any clear evidence to prove that Patel had delivered a political speech or spoke in favour or against any political party or candidate.
Vala also argued that none of the witnesses could not clearly reveal how Hardik Patel had violated the condition number 14 of the permission.
After taking the arguments into account, the magistrate acquitted both Patel and Vaghasiya.
Patel, who had joined the Congress after the 2017 polls, later quit the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of 2022 assembly polls and won from the Viramgam assembly seat as a BJP candidate.