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THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court on Wednesday dismissed the petition of former Punjab minister Sucha Singh Langah and refused to stay his conviction in a disproportionate assets case. So, Langah cannot contest the Assembly election due early next year until the Supreme Court stays his conviction, if he chooses to challenge the HC order passed by Justice MMS Bedi. The Indian Express had on November 18 reported that though SAD had given ticket to Langah to contest the Assembly election from Dera Baba Nanak constituency, the law prohibits him from contesting because of his conviction and three years’ sentence in a DA case. Representation of the People Act, 1951, bars any candidate, convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, from contesting polls.
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Langah had moved the HC on December 12, seeking a stay on his conviction, submitting that he would suffer irreparable loss if his conviction was not stayed. Langah’s counsel had reasoned that in case a public servant is convicted in a corruption case and then acquitted by an appellate court, he is reinstated with all consequential benefits. Whereas in case of Langah, if the conviction is not stayed at this stage, he would suffer such a loss which cannot be undone later if his conviction and sentence are set aside by the appellate court.
Opposing Langah’s application, the government counsel had quoted numerous Supreme Court judgments which clearly outline that the appellate court should not suspend the order of conviction during pendency of appeal in a case of conviction on corruption charges. These cases include KC Sareen versus CBI Chandigarh, State of Maharashtra versus Gajanan and another and CBI New Delhi versus MN Sharma. The government counsel argued that since Langah’s appeal is pending with the HC, the petitioner should wait for its final outcome.
Langah, one of the 69 candidates mentioned on SAD’s first list on November 17, was convicted on February 11, last year, sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 1.10 crore in a DA case by the Mohali district court.
The HC, had on March 4, 2015, admitted Langah’s appeal against Mohali court’s verdict to be heard within three months. Five days later, the HC had suspended his sentence till the pendency of his appeal, but not his conviction.
It was during the Congress regime on May 16, 2002, when the state vigilance bureau had registered a case against Langah and 10 others under Prevention of Corruption Act and arrested Langah. The case was registered for accumulating assets when he was minister of the SAD-BJP government between 1997