Ahmedabad: Expressing doubts over his “abduction” claim, the Gujarat High Court today came down heavily on the Patel quota spearhead Hardik Patel and warned him and his lawyer of contempt action, stating no one can take the court “for a ride”. A bench of Justices M R Shah and K J Thaker, hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Hardik’s aide, said no opinion is made on it as prima facie the court is not satisfied with the allegations.
“Prima facie it appears that it is required (by Hardik) to substantiate the allegations (made by him that he was abducted). Prima facie, we are not satisfied with the allegations,” the court said. “If somebody tries to mislead the court proceedings, it cannot be tolerated or permitted. Nobody can take court proceeding for a ride. Looking at the seriousness of matter it is adjourned till September 29,” said the court.
“We express no opinion at present whether the corpus (Hardik) was under illegal confinement of police or not. If there is any need of any FIR (against Hardik), police may proceed as per law,” it said in the order.
Hardik, who is spearheading the Patel community agitation for quota under OBC category, surfaced yesterday after his mysterious disapperance the previous night. He had claimed that he was abducted by “a person looking like a cop.”
Earlier, his two aides Dinesh Patel and Ketan Patel had filed a habeas corpus plea through their lawyer B M Mangukia before the High Court alleging that the Patel leader was illegally confined by police.
The High Court after hearing the plea early morning had asked the state government to find Hardik. Mangukia produced him before the High Court today. During the hearing, the High Court observed that the Patel leader and his advocate “misused” the court proceedings and warned them with contempt of court proceedings.
“Even before filing the habeas corpus petition, you went to the press, why suo motu cognisance for contempt of court should not be taken against you,” the High Court asked Mangukia. “You have put the entire state machinery and the court at stake for one person. We have our own doubts about credentials of petitioners,” the bench observed.
“We are not concerned with politics, we are only concerned with the prestige of the high court. The manner (in which) you addressed the media and corpus (Hardik) continuously gave statement before media that can be taken as contempt of court,” the HC said taking strong exception to the petitioner approaching it saying his life is under threat but Hardik and advocate were making statements to the press.
“On forged allegations, the court was made to believe that someone’s life is in danger. Later it was found that for some oblique reasons of process, court’s proceeding was not used but misused,” the high court observed.
The court also asked if the police protected Hardik, who appeared before the media from the place of his advocate, but was not arrested. The high court said the hearing was taken up as urgency was demonstrated by the advocate saying the life of a person is in danger and therefore the court permitted the post-midnight hearing.
But when corpus was found yesterday, the advocate did not even bother to inform the high court about his appearance, it said. The court later directed Hardik to give his statement which he wrote in Gujarati and narrated the entire incident of his alleged abduction.
Hardik’s lawyer gave an undertaking on behalf of his client that no agitation or programme call will be given by the Patel leader until next hearing on September 29. The High Court also said the police can access the phones of Mangukia, petitioners and Hardik if needed and later on assurance for the same was taken from Mangukia.
During the hearing, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi asked the court to take suo motu cognisance for contempt of court for using the state machinery. “I myself want to cross-examine him (Hardik on his allegation of abduction). Let the truth come out to the world. If a single police personnel is found (guilty) in this case (of alleged abduction), then we will certainly take action against him,” Trivedi said.
“They say they are followers of Sardar Patel, then they should obey the law and then serve the society,” said Trivedi. “This is a case of issuance of suo motu proceedings for contempt of court so that such things are never repeated in future,” he said.
Trivedi also said he is being asked this question by many that why the high court gave preferential treatment to Hardik when thousands of habeas corpus cases are pending. He said the questions are of nature as “if the state has done some unusual thing,” adding the action of the quota leader was a “publicity stunt.”
During the hearing when the Advocate General said the protests by Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel always moved in a non-violent and peaceful manner, the high court told him to “speak in Gujarati so that Hardik could also understand this.”
Hardik had on Tuesday organised a public meeting in Bayad taluka of Aravali district allegedly without prior permission. After the meeting, police tried to detain him but according to IG Hasmukh Patel he managed to evade them.
Police later registered an FIR against Hardik and 20 others for violating prohibitory orders. Yesterday, he surfaced and claimed that he was abducted.