DateLine: 1st February 2007
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday filed his nomination papers for the parliament seat he resigned from after being convicted in December of a road rage killing.
India's Supreme Court decided Tuesday to stay Sidhu's sentence of three years in jail pending appeal, paving the way for him to seek re-election to parliament as an MP representing the Sikh pilgrimage city of Amritsar next month. As required by law, the former sportsman had to disclose his criminal and financial status in a written affidavit. Under Indian law, a criminal conviction does not bar a person from holding a seat in parliament. A study in 2004 by an independent watchdog found that nearly one quarter of the more than 540 in the lower house of parliament faced criminal charges, including murder and rape. Sidhu's papers showed that he was still facing manslaughter charges, but Tuesday's decision leaves him a free man until his appeal against his sentence is heard. His financial status is comfortable, with Sidhu and his immediate family possessing cash, property and jewellery amounting to more than 2.5 million dollars, according to the affidavit.
The case against the flamboyant Sidhu dates back to 1988, when he dragged an elderly man out of his car and showered him with blows after a road accident. The 43-year-old, now also a well-known TV commentator, had previously been acquitted of the charges in 1999 by a lower court. After his conviction, Sidhu had resigned his seat "on moral grounds", but said Tuesday he intended to re-enter parliament even though his legal woes were far from over. In addition to his pending appeal, relatives of the victim are also demanding that his sentence be increased. Sidhu played 51 Test matches and 136 one-day internationals for India during a career spanning 16 years between 1983 and 1999.