A court in Gujarat's Surendranagar district has issued an arrest warrant against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Hardik Patel for failing to appear before it in a 2017 case in which he is accused of violating a government order.
Patel had made a political speech in violation of a government order at a village in the district ahead of the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections.
Additional chief judicial magistrate D D Shah at Dhrangadhra issued the arrest warrant against Patel for failure to appear the court. Through its order dated February 2, the court directed the Dhrangadhra taluka police station officer in Surendranagar district to arrest Patel and produce him before the court without fail.
The order was received by the police station on February 11, an official confirmed.
A first information report (FIR) was registered at Dhrangadhra taluka police station on January 12, 2018 after Patel and a co-accused Kaushik Patel were found to have violated the condition of the permission granted to them to organise a meeting at Haripar village in the district.
As per the FIR, the duo had sought permission to organise a meeting at the village on November 26, 2017, ahead of the Assembly elections. While they were granted the permission, they allegedly violated the notification issued by the additional district magistrate in a speech delivered during the meeting.
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They were booked under sections 37 (3) and 135 of the Gujarat (Bombay) Police Act, 1951, dealing with punishment for disobeying government orders.
Notably, a court at Jamnagar had last week acquitted Patel in a similar case for making a political speech in violation of a government order at a rally at Dhutarpar village in November 2017.
At that time, Patel headed the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), a Patidar community organisation that organised state-wide agitation demanding reservation under OBC quota for the youths. The agitation had turned violent.
Patel had joined the Congress in 2019, which he quit ahead of the December 2022 Gujarat polls and was subsequently elected as an MLA on a BJP ticket from Viramgam constituency of Ahmedabad. He faces more than two dozen cases, including two sedition cases, in Gujarat.
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