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Sidhu moves SC for stay on conviction
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 5
Former cricket player and BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu today moved an appeal in the Supreme Court, challenging his conviction and three years’ imprisonment in a road rage death case and pleaded for stay on his conviction till final decision on the appeal, to enable him to contest parliamentary byelection from Amritsar.

With the plea for staying of the conviction and making it clear that he intends to contest the byelection from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat which he quit after the conviction, the inimitable BJP leader made his intention clear to re-enter Parliament.

He had resigned from his Lok Sabha seat from Amritsar soon after the conviction. He now wants to file nomination for the by-election, expected to be held with the Punjab Assembly elections for which the last date for filing nomination is January 18.

Till the decision on his appeal, the conviction be stayed, Sidhu’s counsel Mukul Rohtagi requested a Bench of Chief Justice designate K G Balakrishnan and Mr Justice D K Jain.

Mr Rohtagi, explaining the position of law, submitted that Sidhu could contest the byelection only if his conviction was stayed as his sentence was for three years. Only a person with two years or less jail term is permitted to contest under the Representation of the People Act if the conviction is not stayed during the pendency of the appeal.

“Stay of sentence will not remove the bar on his contesting the election. If conviction is stayed then only he can contest,” he said, while making a special mention of filing of the appeal by Sidhu.

While posting the appeal for hearing on January 12, the court referred to a Constitution Bench judgement laying down clear guidelines that the conviction should not be stayed as a matter of routine.

Advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Sudhir Walia, appearing for Jaswinder Singh, a complainant who was in a car with Gurnam Singh, fatally assaulted by Sidhu on January 2, 1989, in Patiala, opposed the hearing of the application for interim stay till the BJP leader either surrenders to the authorities, or gets exemption from the court.

Mr Dwivedi said it had been clearly laid down in the Supreme Court rule of procedure that until a convicted person surrenders to the authorities, or was granted exemption by the court, his special leave petition (SLP) should not be heard.

Mr Walia later told the Tribune that before the court consider Sidhu’s application for interim stay on conviction on January 12, they would press for arguments on its maintainability in the absence of his surrendering or obtaining an exemption order from the court as it would amount to violation of the rules of procedure.

Mr Sidhu in the SLP claimed that the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while reversing the judgement of trial court acquitting him of the charges under Section 304 Part-II of the Indian Panel Code, had not appreciated the analysis of the post-mortem report of deceased Gurnam Singh, which stated that he had a cardiac problem.

“After perusal of the pathological report, Dr Gurpreet Singh, head of cardiology department who was member of the medical board, was of the view that the cardiac condition as reported by the pathologist could also result in sudden cardiac death under stress,” the SLP said.

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