A sessions court in Gujarat’s Mehsana on Friday granted bail to Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani and nine others in a case pertaining to holding a rally without police permission in 2017, PTI reported.
The court, however, directed them not to leave Gujarat without its permission. Additional District and Sessions Judge CM Pawar also asked Mevani and the nine others to hand over their passports to the court.
On May 5, a magistrate in Mehsana had convicted and sentenced them to three months in prison. The judge had, however, granted them bail so that they could file an appeal.
The sessions judge on Friday admitted the appeal by Mevani and the nine other convicts, and granted them regular bail during the pendency of the case.
The MLA said that he respected the court’s decision but alleged that the government was leaving no stone unturned to harass him, India Today reported.
“I am a leader welcomed by people across the country,” he said. “Recently, I was in Kerala to campaign for a bypoll. The BJP fears my rise across India and that is why they are trying their best to harass me by whatever means they can.”
Though Mevani is an Independent MLA, he supports the Congress.
The MLA and his supporters had organised a rally on July 12, 2017, to protest inaction in a 2016 case, in which four Dalits were stripped and beaten by an upper-caste mob for skinning a dead cow. The protest march, called “Azadi Kooch”, had been organised from Mehsana to Dhanera town in the Banaskantha district.
The police had filed a first information report under Section 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) in the case. On May 5, the magistrate’s court convicted ten persons, including Mevani, Nationalist Congress Party member Reshma Patel and some members of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, of which Mevani is the convenor.
The MLA was also arrested twice between April 20 and April 25 in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Assam. In the first case, he was charged with criminal conspiracy and outraging religious feelings for tweeting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mevani had said that the prime minister worshipped freedom fighter Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.
In the second case, he was charged for allegedly assaulting a woman police officer and outraging her modesty. He has, however, been granted bail in both cases.