The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel to personally appear before it on June 20 to respond to a plea challenging his election to the Rajya Sabha from the state. Justice Bela Trivedi asked Patel to appear before her for his examination as a witness by the petitioner and BJP leader Balvantsinh Rajput who has challenged his election to the Upper House in August 2017.
Patel's counsel P S Champaneri pleaded to the court to defer his client's examination as a witness in the case to a later date due to his ill health but Justice Trivedi rejected the plea. In his application, Champaneri had sought the court to allow Patel's examination only after all other witnesses in the case were examined.
The counsel said Patel had to be admitted to a private hospital in Faridabad, Haryana, on June 8 for treatment to a heart ailment, and hence he should be given time to appear before the court. Arguing against this, Rajput's lawyer N D Nanavati said as a respondent, Patel will have to provide oral as well as documentary evidence, and for that as far as possible, he will have to be examined first of all by the court before examination of other witnesses.
Observing that Patel did not have "any serious ailment" and that he was discharged from the hospital on the very second day of admission, Justice Trivedi asked him to remain present in the court on June 20. Rajput had moved the petition challenging Patel's election after he was defeated as the BJP candidate in the biennial polls for the Rajya Sabha held on August 8, 2017.
Rajput, a former Congress MLA, had quit the party to join the BJP ahead of the election. He has accused Patel of bribing MLAs to vote for him and sought quashing of the EC order invalidating the votes cast by two rebel Congress MLAs.
Rajput has also prayed that votes of two other Congress MLAs be declared invalid. The EC's decision to invalidate the votes of the then rebel Congress MLAs Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavji Patel had helped Ahmed Patel get 44 votes, the minimum he needed to win.
Rajput had polled 38 votes.
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