Supreme Court today directed cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to face trial for seeking assistance of a government servant during the 2009 general elections while partially dropping charges of corrupt practice and submission of false return on election expenses.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A M Sapre while allowing the appeal of Sidhu partially dropped two categories of allegations including commission of corrupt practice of submission of false return of election expenses and the action taken by the Returning Officer on the complaint filed by the Soni with regard to irregularities counting of votes.
Sidhu has recently floated a new political front Awaz-E-Punjab after resigning from his Rajya Sabha seat and BJP from which he had won the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2009, defeating his Congress rival Om Prakash Soni.
“Consequently and in the light of the above, the appeal is partly allowed to the extent indicated above. The trial of the election petition on the issues/allegations that survive in terms of the present order will have to recommence. We order accordingly,” the bench said.
The court said the allegation that Sidhu had got transferred Jagjit Singh Suchu, an officer of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) as Additional Superintending Engineer, Amritsar, to receive assistance from him so as to further his election prospects, needs to go for full trial.
“If that be so, the aforesaid issue also will have to go for a full trial as ordered by the High Court. The appeal to the aforesaid extent will, therefore, have to be dismissed,” the bench said in its verdict.
Soni has alleged that Suchu was transferred from the PSEB to assist Sidhu while he was rendering service as Additional Superintending Engineer.
Based on the allegations in Soni’s poll petition, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had held three broad categories of averments to be triable and ordered regular trial.
Aggrieved by the High Court order, Sidhu had challenged it before the apex court which had earlier stayed the trial.
Regarding the two other allegations which were dropped by apex court, the bench, with respect to averment of commission of corrupt practice by submitting false return of election expenses by Sidhu, said there is no basis as to how Soni had arrived to the quantum of expenses.