NEW DELHI: In a setback to Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Gujarat high court to proceed with the trial of an election petition that had challenged his election to Rajya Sabha by a nail-biting margin in August, 2017.

When Patel’s plea challenging the HC’s decision to entertain the petition was taken up for hearing, and even before his counsel Kapil Sibal could open arguments, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed: “Go and face trial.”

After hearing Sibal and advocate A M Singhvi , the CJI-led bench said it would hear arguments in detail in February. However, as an interim measure it said: “In the meantime, the high court shall proceed with the trial.”

Sibal pointed out that during an earlier round of litigation by Patel, the SC had allowed the HC to proceed with the trial but had restrained it from passing final orders. He requested the bench to pass the same order.

The bench of Justices Gogoi and Kaul said: “This (today’s order) will be in super-session of all such interim orders that may have been passed earlier.” This could mean the possibility of the HC completing trial and passing the final order. But, the CJI allayed the fears by observing “we know how fast such trials move. In any case, we will hear the case in detail in February”. Patel had won the RS elections from Gujarat amidst high drama following which his opponent Balwantsinh Rajput filed a petition in the HC.

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