[Hardik Bharatbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat, 2016 decided on 8.7.2016]

Gujarat High Court on Friday granted bail to Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel in two sedition cases, with a condition that he will have to stay outside the state for the next six months. The Court also directed Hardik’s lawyer to give a fresh written undertaking on his behalf which should state that he would not indulge in any activities that would lead to law and order problem. Hardik Patel had been booked with sedition charges on 19 October, 2015 over his provocative remarks where he had asked his supporters to kill policemen rather than commit suicide for the cause of reservation. Patel was arrested and imprisoned in Surat after he led a huge revolt of the Patidar community against the ruling BJP Government in the state. Patel’s arrest was followed by large-scale arson and violence by his supporters in some of Gujarat’s biggest towns.

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 Cr.P.C, the Court decided to grant bail to the applicant but with certain mandatory conditions.