Gujarat High Court: Hearing upon the applications filed by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti’s (PAAS) firebrand leader and convener Hardik Patel, who was charged with sedition, the bench of A.J. Desai, J., granted him bail along with certain conditions wherein Patel will have to refrain from taking undue advantage of the liberty provided to him. The Court further directed Patel to issue a declaration that he is ready to remain outside the territorial limits of the State of Gujarat for a period of six months from the date of his release.
The present case is a result of the statewide unrest that prevailed in the State of Gujarat last year where there was an agitation led by the leaders of PAAS demanding reservations in government jobs and educational institutions for the Patidar community under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. As per the contentions of Zubin Bharda representing Hardik Patel, the prosecution has vehemently tried to portray that Patel is the one who is solely responsible for the violence that spread in the aftermath of the rallies that were held in the support of the cause championed by PAAS. It was further argued that grave charges were leveled against the applicant under Section 121 of IPC, as if his demand for reservation was akin to waging war against the State. The contentions were opposed by the Public Prosecutor, Mitesh Amin, who stated that the applicant had used the wide array of social networking sites and internet applications such as ‘watsapp’ to mobilize the members of Patidar community and thereby had conspired to overawe the State Government.
Perusing the contentions of the parties and referring to landmark decisions on sedition, the Court observed that the applicant and his association namely PAAS had called on the members of Patidar community to the various rallies that furthered their cause of attaining reservation under the OBC category. The Court also studied the speeches and the interviews given by the applicant and observed that along with the applicant, several other members of the Patidar community were interested in getting reservation. Therefore the applicant alone cannot be kept behind the bars when other leaders of the agitation have been already granted bail. Considering the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in respect to Section 439 of the CrPC, the Court decided to grant bail to the applicant but with certain mandatory conditions. [Hardik Bharatbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 824, decided on 08.07.2016]