Despite jail term, Sidhu can contest polls: Legal experts
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu can contest future elections despite the Supreme Court sentencing him to one-year jail in a 1988 road rage case, legal experts said on Thursday, citing provisions of the electoral law.
"If the sentence was two years or more, then he would have been disqualified from contesting elections for six years (from completion of sentence)," legal expert and former Lok Sabha secretary general P D T Achary told PTI, citing Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals with disqualification.
The former cricketer had recently contested the assembly polls in Punjab but lost.
Former Union law secretary P K Malhotra said there is no ambiguity in law with regard to contesting election in respect of persons convicted of criminal offences.
Section 8 of the R P Act provides various grounds under which a person stands disqualified on conviction for prescribed offences such as the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
"In case the conviction is for offences not specified in the R P Act, but it is for more than two years, the person will stand disqualified from contesting election from the date of such conviction and will continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years from his release," Malhotra explained.
He said in case Sidhu's conviction is not in respect of offences specified in the RP Act then one-year imprisonment will not come in the way of his contesting elections.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and S K Kaul allowed the review plea filed by the victim's family on the issue of the sentence awarded to Sidhu.
Though the apex court had in May 2018 held Sidhu guilty of the offence of "voluntarily causing hurt" to a 65-year-old man in the case, it spared him a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.
"...we feel there is an error apparent on the face of record ... therefore, we have allowed the review application on the issue of sentence. In addition to the fine imposed, we consider it appropriate to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of one year , the bench said while pronouncing the verdict.
In September 2018, the apex court had agreed to examine the review petition filed by the family members of the deceased.
Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC entails a maximum jail term of up to one year or with a fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.