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SC notice to Gujarat on Hardik Patel’s plea against sedition charge

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from the Gujarat government on the plea by Hardik Patel, who is leading an agitation for reservation for Patidar community, challenging the state high court order refusing to quash sedition charge invoked against him and other stir leaders for allegedly attacking places including police stations.

Issuing notice to Gujarat government, a bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman directed the hearing of the matter on January 5 when the court is going to take up another similar plea by the Patel quota agitation leader.

Appearing for Hardik Patel, senior counsel Kapil Sibal said that his client could not be charged under sedition as there was no conspiracy to wage a war against the government. At best the case against Hardik Patel could be that of using “intemperate language” and the same could be tried under different penal provision.

Contending that mere words were not enough to attract the charge of sedition unless there was some act to match them, Sibal said that there was “nothing to show” that he was challenging the state, and the whole movement was for seeking reservation for Patidar community.

Opposing the plea by the Patel leader, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that one could not contend that there was no criminality when the judiciary, police, police stations and politicians were being targeted in the state.

“Scores of police stations across the state were torched. One district judge was attacked. The house of home minister was attacked. We have come to know about all this by tapping the phones…,” he told the court opposing the plea.

The Gujarat High Court had on December 1 dropped the treason charge against Hardik Patel but refused to quash the sedition charge.

The state police, in October, lodged the second case against Patidar leader and his five aides.