Free Press Journal

Court questions sedition charges on Hardik


Hardik Patel

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the government to explain the grounds on which sedition charges were slapped on Patel community leader Hardik Patel. The sedition charge followed his alleged remarks earlier this month that his community’s youngsters should kill a policeman or two instead of committing suicide.

Patel, 22, who has been leading an agitation for reservation in jobs for the Patel community, was on Monday arrested on sedition charges for exhorting a youngster, Vipul Desai, in Surat on October 3 not to commit suicide but kill some policemen instead. A Surat court subsequently remanded him to police custody till October 23.

“If you have so much courage… then go and kill a couple of policemen. Patels never commit suicide,” Hardik had allegedly advised Desai, who had threatened to commit suicide in support of the agitation. Patel had carried a local TV channel reporter with him when he called on Desai. After the channel telecast it, the conversation was uploaded on the social media, creating a huge controversy.

A single-judge bench of Justice J.B. Pardiwala asked the government lawyers how did Patel’s remarks tantamount to sedition, which according to section 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code is spreading “hatred against a government established by law in India”. The judge asked whether Patel’s statement fell into this definition.

Justice Pardiwala also observed that Patel’s remarks were made “in proximity” to an individual and not publicly so as to spread hatred against the state. The next hearing in the case has been posted for Friday. Patel’s detention on sedition charges was challenged in the high court by his father Bharat Patel, a BJP activist, through advocate B.M. Mangukiya.

His petition contended: “No offence can be disclosed by spoken words of Hardik and no overt act can be attributed to him by those words, thus no offence has been made out.” Patel was first detained by the Rajkot police ahead of the India-South Africa one-day cricket match on Sunday following his threats to disrupt the game.

He was then arrested in Rajkot on Monday for allegedly insulting the national flag for holding it upside down during his protest and granted bail by a court on a surety of Rs 20,000. Just as he emerged from the court, he was picked up on sedition charges to be taken to Surat.