Election no ground to grant relief: Punjab Government
"If conviction is stayed, Sidhu will claim he is exonerated"Resignation different from disqualification: Sidhu's counsel
New Delhi: A Supreme Court Bench on Thursday reserved orders on the former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Navjot Singh Sidhu's application seeking a stay of the conviction and three-year sentence awarded to him by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a murder case.
Opposing the plea, senior advocate Sushil Kumar, appearing for the State Government, said Sidhu could not be granted relief merely on the ground that his conviction was coming in way of his contesting the Lok Sabha by-election in Amritsar - 2, for which nomination has begun.
"Had Sidhu not resigned [his seat], he would have continued as MP. He took the moral [high] ground to resign after the conviction and now wants to contest the polls. If the conviction is stayed, he would go to the public saying he has been exonerated by the apex court," Mr. Sushil Kumar argued.
Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for Jaswinder Singh, a relative of the man who died after he was slapped by Sidhu, said: "Never in the last 57 years has a conviction been stayed by this court and if it happens, it would open the door for many politicians convicted in criminal cases to approach the court to contest elections."
The Bench, comprising Justices G.P. Mathur and R.V. Raveendran, intervened and said: "This court is not powerless to grant relief to a person in a situation if it prima facie appears that the conviction and sentence awarded by the High Court was erroneous."
On a different footing
Harish Salve, senior counsel for Sidhu, maintained that his client resigned his Lok Sabha seat after the conviction and this was different from disqualification.
The case stood on a totally different footing as at the time of the road rage incident in Patiala 18 years ago, Sidhu was not in public life and he was an international cricketer.
Also, he did not abuse any public office.
In his special leave petition, Sidhu said the High Court had erred by reversing the trial court's acquittal order.