Additional Sessions Judge S H Oza granted pardon on the condition that Ketan, who is out on bail, will fully cooperate in the investigation by turning an approver in the case for the successful prosecution of the other offenders.
Following the largescale violence in Gujarat after the Patel community's mega rally in Ahmedabad on August 25, 2015, the city crime branch had arrested Hardik, his aides Ketan, Dinesh Bambhania and Chirag Patel and charged them for sedition and criminal conspiracy. In July this year, Ketan had moved the Sessions Court with a plea for pardon and expressed his desire to turn an approver in the case.
In its response, the Gujarat government, represented by Special Public Prosecutor H M Dhruv, had informed the court that the government had no problem if Ketan was willing to reveal the details about the "conspiracy" related to the case by turning an approver.
Granting him pardon, the court noted that it was necessary for the prosecution to prove the conspiracy angle. Further, it observed that though there were evidence against all the accused, only an accused, and not an outsider, would know how the "conspiracy" was hatched. The chargesheet in the case was filed by the city crime branch in January, 2016.
As per the chargesheet, Hardik and his aides, who were part of the agitating body, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), were involved in "inciting" the youths of the Patel community to resort to violence as part of their "conspiracy" to put undue pressure on the government to accept their demand to give reservation to their community under the OBC category.
The chargesheet had also claimed that despite knowing that it was not possible for the government to accept the demand, Hardik and others deliberately indulged in "seditious activities".
It had also claimed that when the police were trying to maintain peace in the society, Hardik and his aides continued their efforts to trigger hatred and disaffection towards the government by giving "inflammatory" statements before the media, as part of their "conspiracy" to disturb the peaceful atmosphere.