The Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the conviction of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sucha Singh Langah in a case of disproportionate assets, thus clearing the way for him to contest the Punjab assembly polls to be held on February 4.
Niharika Ahluwalia, the SC lawyer who represented him, confirmed that Langah’s conviction was stayed on Thursday by a bench of justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman on a petition moved a day before. The detailed order was awaited.
The law bars from contesting elections those who have been convicted and sentenced to jail for not less than two years. The Punjab and Haryana high court had in March 2015 suspended his three-year sentence but not stayed the conviction. He had moved the SC after his appeal for stay on the conviction was dismissed by the HC on December 21 last.
While Langah, 64, a former state cabinet minister, was initially announced as the SAD nominee from Dera Baba Nanak segment, after the HC order the party planned to field his son instead. Langah is considered the SAD's best bet from the predominantly rural segment along the border with Pakistan in Gurdaspur district. In the 2012 polls, Langah had lost to Congress candidate Sukhjinder Singh by 2,940 votes in a close contest.
The Rs 13-crore disproportionate assets case dates back to May 2002, soon after the Congress came to power. The state vigilance bureau (VB) registered the FIR against 11 people, including Langah, who was public works minister in the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government (1997-2002). In February 2015, a court in SAS Nagar convicted and sentenced him in the and imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore.