Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said that there was no question of asking Navjot Singh Singh to step down from the Cabinet. This, after the state government had argued last week in the Supreme Court backing conviction for Sidhu in a 30-year-old road rage case. Singh said that the Supreme Court had in 2007 suspended Sidhu’s conviction and is yet to pronounce the final verdict in the case.
The Chief Minister’s remark comes amid rising demand from the opposition to sack Sidhu from the Council of Ministers. There were also reports that Singh has asked Sidhu to resign from the Cabinet. Sidhu, who had joined the Congress just ahead of the assembly elections last year, is the Tourism, Culture and Local Government minister in the Amarinder Singh government.
Singh told media said that the question of Sidhu resigning from the Cabinet didn’t arise merely because the government has repeated its earlier stand in the Supreme Court. He reiterated that backing the minister’s conviction was the only legal option available with the state government in the top court. He noted that had the government taken a different stand, it would have been accused of lying in the court. The Chief Minister also expressed hope that the Supreme Court will take Sidhu’s contribution to the society into account before delivering the judgement.
Last week, the state government had in the Supreme Court supported Punjab and Haryana High Court’s 1999 order to convict Singh and sentence him to three years in jail in a 1988 road rage case. The HC had overturned a Patiala trial court order that had acquitted Sidhu in the case. Later, the HC suspended its order, enabling Sidhu to appeal in the Supreme Court.
Sidhu is accused of hitting Gurnam Singh (65) on his head during an argument on a road in Patiala. The incident had taken place on December 27, 1988. Gurnam died later in a hospital.