THE SUPREME Court on Tuesday stayed the conviction of cricketer-turned-BJP politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in a 1988 road-rage death case, paving the way for him to contest the upcoming Amritsar Lok Sabha by-poll.
The Amritsar seat fell vacant last month when its sitting MP Sidhu resigned after the Punjab and Haryana High Court held him and his friend Rupinder Singh Sandhu guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and sentenced them to three-year imprisonment. Sidhu had challenged the conviction in the Supreme Court.
A bench of Justices G.P. Mathur and R.V. Raveendran made it clear that the stay would remain in force till Sidhu’s appeal was finally decided. The court’s decision means removing a legal bar, which would have prevented Sidhu from contesting the elections. According to the law, a person convicted for more than two years cannot contest elections.
The bench said it was not possible to “hold as a matter of rule” that a person’s conviction should not be suspended and he should not be allowed to enter Parliament or an Assembly. It said it would be unfair to Sidhu if he was not allowed to contest for the seat, which fell vacant only on account of his voluntary resignation on moral grounds.
The BJP immediately renamed Sidhu as its candidate for Amritsar. “The central election committee of the party has already said Sidhu should be fielded again from that seat if his conviction is stayed. Therefore, he will be our candidate from Amritsar,” BJP chief Rajnath Singh said.