Guj HC orders Ahmed Patel to depose as witness

The Gujarat high court on Wednesday ordered senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel to be present in the court on June 20 to depose in the trial of election petition moved by BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput challenging the former's victory in Rajya Sabha polls held in 2017.

Rejecting an application moved by advocate P S Champaneri on behalf of Ahmed Patel, the court of justice Trivedi ordered that he will have to remain present for leading his oral evidence on June 20 and affidavit in lieu of examination-in-chief should be served to the petitioner by June 18.

Justice Trivedi is conducting trial of election petition on daily basis. Last month, the evidence of the petitioner Rajput was closed and defence evidence will have to be examined now.

Champaneri had sought permission from the court to allow Ahmed Patel, who is also Treasurer of Congress party, to appear in the trial as his own witness at a later stage and proceed with other witnesses, on the ground of poor health. This was objected by Rajput's counsel Nirpupam Nanavati.

A medical certificate submitted by Patel's lawyer stated that he was admitted to "Metro Heart Institute with Multispeciality Hospital," Faridabad but there was no detail of ailment. It was found that Patel was admitted on June 8 and the next day he was discharged.

Justice Trivedi refused to grant relief to Patel while stating that "no special special circumstances have been made out by the respondent No.1 (Ahmed Patel) to permit him to be examined after the other witnesses are examined."

The order stated, "It is also pertinent to note that having regard to the nature of the allegations levelled against the respondent No.1 by the election petitioner (Rajput) and having regard to the defence put up by him in the written submission, it is desirable that the respondent No.1 is examined first in compliance with Rule 3-A of Order XVIII of CPC (civil procedure code)."

Rajput, who lost to Patel in the dramatic polls held in August 2017, has challenged the result alleging that Patel won because of "bribery" and "undue influence" among others. Rajput was the chief whip of Congress who joined the BJP days before the Rajya Sabha polls were to be held.

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