The Supreme Court, while staying the conviction of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in a 1988 road rage death case, said his case was different from that of a person convicted of a corruption-related offence.
A Bench of Justices GP Mathur and RV Raveendran said: “In such (corruption) cases, it is obvious that it would be highly improper to suspend the order of conviction of a public servant which would enable him to occupy the same office which he misused. This is not the case here.”
The court had a word of appreciation for Sidhu, who quit as MP last month after the Punjab and Haryana High Court convicted him and a friend of causing the death of one Gurnam Singh in Patiala.
The Bench said it was not necessary for him to resign as MP. “However, he has chosen to adopt a moral path and has set high standards in public life by resigning from his seat and in seeking to get a fresh mandate from the people,” it said.
Giving the stay order, the court listed at least eight points which it felt prima facie appeared to be in Sidhu's favour.
It noted that the death of Gurnam Singh took place without any pre-meditation and the deceased was wholly unknown to Sidhu. There was no motive for the crime as Sidhu and his friend were alleged to have lost their temper after an argument with the victim. Further, there was no weapon alleged to have been used by the accused.
The medical evidence too, the court said, showed that the victim had a diseased heart and the doctor who performed the post-mortem was unable to give the cause of death. The medical board gave its opinion after nearly a fortnight and that too did not ascribe the death to any external injury and instead said it was due to the “effects of head injury and cardiac condition”.
Ex-cricketer up against Congress’ Singla
Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla is the Congress nominee for Amritsar, where he will face Sidhu. Singla, considered close to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, is a sitting legislator from Bhatinda.
The Congress has fielded Markfed chairman Harminder Singh Jassi from Bhatinda and renominated sitting legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu from Talwandi Sabo. Its official candidate for the Samana assembly seat is three-time MLA from Patiala Brahm Mohinda.