In a major setback for Patidar leader Hardik Patel, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined an urgent hearing of his plea seeking a suspension of his conviction in a 2015 rioting case, so that he can contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Congress leader Hardik Patel on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat High Court order rejecting his plea to stay his conviction in the 2015 Vispur rioting case.

As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a convict facing a jail term of two years or more cannot stand for election unless the conviction is stayed.

Hardik Patel earlier this month joined the Congress party in the presence of its chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Earlier in February, he had also expressed his desire to fight the Lok Sabha elections.

Patel, 25, had started preparations to contest from Jamnagar on a Congress ticket after joining the party. The last date for filing of nominations is April 4.

In July last year, the sessions court of Visnagar in Mehsana district had sentenced him to two years imprisonment for rioting and arson which took place in Visnagar town in 2015.

The high court in August 2018 suspended the sentence but not the conviction.

In the high court, the state government had submitted that there were 17 FIRs including two sedition complaints against Patel who is known for making inflammatory speeches.

The high court had declined the contention of Patel’s lawyers that if the conviction was not stayed, it will cause “irreparable damage” as he intended to contest the Lok Sabha election.

In the order, the high court noted that a conviction can be stayed only in rare and exceptional cases, and the case did not fall into that category.