In a jolt to Congress leader Bhagvan Barad, who was disqualified as an MLA after being found guilty in a theft case, the Gujarat High Court Friday set aside a sessions court order that stayed his conviction.
Justice Sonia Gokani allowed the Gujarat government's plea to set aside the March 7 order of Veraval sessions court in Gir Somnath district, which had stayed Barad's conviction and a two-and-a-half year jail term awarded by a magistrate's court of Sutrapada taluka.
The magistrate's court had held Barad guilty of theft for excavating limestone worth Rs 2.83 crore through illegal mining on government land in 1995.
In her order, Justice Gokani asked the sessions court to hear Barad's plea afresh "without further loss of time".
She noted the sessions court "should once again apply its mind" while hearing Barad's petition challenging the magistrate's order.
Citing some related judgements by the Supreme Court, the judge noted that lower courts should stay convictions in only "rare cases".
His plea challenging the Speaker's decision is pending before a division bench of the high court.
The by-election would take place on April 23, the same day when polling will be held on all the 26 Lok Sabha seats of Gujarat.
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