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SC begins hearing on Sidhu's plea

india Updated: Jan 18, 2007 00:01 IST
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing on the plea of cricketer-turned-BJP politician Navjot Singh Sidhu for stay of his conviction in an 18-year-old road rage case to enable him contest Amritsar Lok Sabha by-election necessitated by his resignation.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had last month held him guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the death of one Gurnam Singh in 1988 in Patiala and sentenced him along with co-convict Rupinder Singh Sandhu to three-year imprisonment.

A Bench headed by Justice GP Mathur, which had earlier granted bail to Sidhu and Sandhu, wanted to know under what provision of law his conviction could be stayed.

On behalf of Sidhu, senior counsel Harish Salve cited a recent Supreme Court ruling and said if the convict states the reason for stay of conviction and if irreversible damage was likely to be caused to him, the court should grant the desired relief.

According to the latest ruling of the Supreme Court, a person disqualified to contest election on account of his/her conviction and sentence of over two years, could contest only if the conviction and sentence - both are stayed and not just the sentence.

As arguments remained inconclusive, Salve would resume his arguments on Thursday.

Whether Sidhu would be able to contest the Amritsar by-election or not depends on the court's verdict on his plea to stay his conviction.

Sidhu and Sandhu have challenged the December 1 and December 6, 2006 orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on their conviction and sentence.

The trial court had in September 1999 acquitted him but the High Court reversed that verdict and held him and co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the death of one Gurnam Singh in 1988. The High Court also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on the convicts. The money would go to the victim's widow.

Sidhu has contended that the incident took place 18 years ago and the High Court should not have reversed the trial court's order of acquittal without there being any compelling circumstances. The victim's family has also filed a counter-appeal for enhancing the sentence awarded to the duo.

Email Satya Prakash: satya