In a partial relief to the Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, the Gujarat High Court on Tuesday quashed the charge of `waging war against government’, but retained the one of sedition, while it roundly criticised reservations as one of the obstacles to the country’s progress.
The charge of waging war against government (treason) entails a possible death, while the one of sedition is punishable with upto life term.
"If I am asked by anyone to name two things which have destroyed this country or rather has not allowed the country to progress in the right direction, then the same is reservation and corruption," said Justice J B Pardiwala in his order, while refusing to drop the charge of sedition from the FIR against Hardik and his five associates.
"It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation after years of independence. When our Constitution was framed, it was understood that reservation would remain for a period of 10 years, but unfortunately it has continued even after 65 years of independence," said the order.
The reservation has only played the role of an "amoeboid monster sowing seeds of discord" amongst the people. The importance of merit, in any society, cannot be understated.
The merit stands for a positive goal…which stands for rewarding those actions that are considered good, it said.
"Then…rewarding merit is a means towards achieving what is regarded as good in the society. The parody of the situation is that India must be the only country wherein some of the citizens crave to be called backward," said the order.
The judge also asked the Patel quota leaders to fight against corruption rather than indulging in violence for reservations.
"The biggest threat today for the country is corruption.
The countrymen should rise and fight against corruption at all levels, rather than shedding blood and indulging in violence for reservation," he said.
Justice Pardiwala ordered removal of IPC sections 121 (waging war against government), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity) from the FIR lodged by the Ahmedabad police’s crime branch in October following the Patel agitation in August.
"….basic ingredients to constitute the offence of `waging war’ are lacking. It would be too much to say that the violent acts resulting in destruction of public property would fall within the expression `waging war’," stated the order.
"Prima facie, the persons who attacked the police stations, damaged public property are guilty of mammoth rioting, not for ‘waging war’."
The High Court, however, refused to drop IPC sections 124-A (sedition) and 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against government using criminal force).
"I have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that more than a prima facie case is made out so far as the offence of sedition…is concerned. A prima facie case of conspiracy to overawe by means of criminal force, or the show of criminal force the government is also made out," it said, adding that probe with regard to these offences may proceed.
The city police had arrested the 22 years old Hardik, Chirag Patel, Dinesh Bambhaniya and Ketan Patel in the case.
They are currently behind the bars. Two other aides of Hardik — Amrish Patel and Alpesh Kathiriya — were granted interim protection from arrest earlier and was extended by another 15 days today.
Last month Hardik and others had moved the High Court seeking to set aside the FIR filed by Ahmedabad police, claiming their protest to seek reservations for Patels did not amount to sedition or waging war against government.
Prosecutor Mitesh Amin had argued that the FIR was based on intercepted calls wherein the Patel leaders discussed their agitation strategy.