New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday disallowed actor Sanjay Dutt to contest elections from the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat and refused to suspend his conviction in a criminal case.
"We are not inclined to suspend his conviction," said a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan. "It is not a fit case to grant stay of conviction," said the Bench, which also comprised Justices P Sathasivam and R M Lodha.
The court said that the power of the court to suspend the conviction of a person to enable him to contest the elections has to be exercised rarely.
The court refused to stay Dutt's conviction, saying his case does not have parity with that of cricketer-turned-parliamentarian Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had resigned his seat after his conviction in a case of unintentional killing.
Dutt has been sentenced to six years in jail by a Mumbai anti-terror court hearing the 1993 serial bomb blasts in the city.
As per electoral laws, a person convicted for a criminal offence and sentenced to jail for more than two years is barred from running for elections.
The court said that Dutt had been convicted of "serious offence" under the Arms Act and was disqualified from contesting the elections under the Section 8 (3) of the Representation of People Act, which debars a person sentenced to two or more years of imprisonment, from standing for polls.
The Samajwadi Party wants to field Dutt, who was convicted for illegal possession of arms, from the Lucknow constituency, and he had already started campaigning there.
Farhana Shah, the lawyer who represented Dutt in the Mumbai blasts case, said her client won’t be disappointed with the court order. “It is not so disappointing for Sanjay, as he will have better luck next time. He never loses courage," said Shah.
Shah claimed the court order on Monday would not affect the actor’s plea to overturn his conviction. "The Supreme Court order will not affect the final verdict," she told CNN-IBN.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, the lawyer who successfully prosecuted Sanjay, said that the court order had sent a larger message against the criminalisation of politics.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)