Cricketer-turned-BJP politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday requested the Supreme Court to stay his conviction and three-year imprisonment in an 18-year-old road rage case on the ground that he wanted to contest the by-election to Amritsar Lok Sabha seat that fell vacant last month following his resignation.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatagi mentioned Sidhu’s Special Leave Petition challenging the December 1 and December 6, 2006 orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on his conviction and sentence before a bench headed by Justice KG Balakrishnan, which posted it for hearing on January 12.
In his appeal, Sidhu, convicted of causing death of an elderly man at Patiala in 1988, has sought setting aside of the order of the high court order that held him guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
However, pending the final disposal of the appeal, Rohtagi requested the court to stay his conviction and sentence to enable him to contest the forthcoming Amritsar Lok Sabha by-election.
He said the Election Commission has already announced the schedule for the by-election along with the Punjab Assembly elections on February 13 and that the last date for filing of nominations was January 18.
The former BJP MP from Amritsar, who resigned from the Lok Sabha after his conviction, can contest the ensuing elections pending final adjudication of his case, only if the apex court stays his conviction, and not just the sentence. If he fails to get a stay order by January 31, he will have to surrender and go to jail.
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 1 lakh each on the convicts and money would go to the victim’s widow.
The high court had suspended his sentence till January 31, 2007 to enable him file an appeal in the apex court. Both of them were granted bail by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh after they furnished bail bonds of Rs 10,000 each and a surety of like amount in accordance with the high court’s order.
Sidhu has contended before the apex court 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.