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SC surprised over early listing of Ahmed Patel's plea, says someone "over anxious"

Patel has challenged the order of the Gujarat High Court's on October 26 last year by which it had dismissed his plea questioning the maintainability of rival BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput's election petition.  

PTI PTI
New Delhi Published on: February 01, 2019 20:00 IST
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Ahmed Patel (PTI)

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed surprise over early listing of the petition of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel pertaining to his election to Rajya Sabha in 2017 and said, "someone seems to be over anxious in this case".
 
The top court said that as per the last order, the matter was to be listed for final hearing on a non-miscellaneous day but the case got listed on the very first day of February, which is a miscellaneous day and would like to know from the registry how it happened.
 
Patel has challenged the order of the Gujarat High Court's on October 26 last year by which it had dismissed his plea questioning the maintainability of rival BJP candidate Balwantsinh Rajput's election petition.
 
"Someone seems to be over anxious in this case. We would like to know from the registry how this matter got listed," said a bench of Chief Justice of Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Patel, said that they were also surprised over the listing of the matter.
 
"We were also surprised. We don't know how it happened," Sibal said.
 
To this, the bench said, "We are not saying anything to you. We would like to find out from the registry how it happened. In our last order, we had said that the matter be listed in the month of February for final hearing. Now, suddenly we find that it is listed on the very first day of February and that too on a Friday".
 
Usually cases which require detailed hearing are listed on non-miscellaneous day that is from Tuesday to Thursday. On Monday and Friday, miscellaneous matters are usually listed for hearing in the Supreme Court.
 
Sibal said as per the last order of the top court, the trial is in progress.
 
To this, the bench said that the matter requires detailed hearing and therefore it is listing the case on February 13.
 
On January 3, the apex court had asked Patel to face trial in connection with his election to the Rajya Sabha in 2017 which has been challenged by Rajput.
 
The apex court had declined to interfere with the October 26, 2018 order of the Gujarat High Court which had said that Rajput's allegations required a trial.
 
Rajput in his election petition had challenged the Election Commission's decision to invalidate the votes of the two rebel MLAs. Had these votes been counted, he would have defeated Patel, the BJP leader had contended.
 
In its order, the apex court had said that "as contesting parties have appeared, no notice need be formally issued. List the matters for final disposal in the month of February, 2019. In the meantime, the High Court shall proceed with the trial of the Election Petition".
 
Patel was declared the winner after the Election Commission invalidated the votes of rebel Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohel and Raghavjee Patel, bringing down the number of votes needed for victory to 44 from 45.
 
In the election petition before the high court, Rajput also alleged that Patel had taken Congress MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru before the election which amounted to "bribing the voters".
 
In October 2018, the high court for the second time declined to give relief to Patel. Earlier, April 20, it had rejected Patel's plea.
 
Patel had moved the Supreme Court against the April 20, 2018 order, contending that the decision of the poll panel cannot be challenged by an election petition.
 
The apex court on September 26 last year had asked the Gujarat High Court to decide afresh a plea of Patel challenging the maintainability of a petition filed by Rajput. In October it dismissed Patel's plea. 
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