High Court grants bail to Ex MP Dhananjay Singh but refuses to stay conviction by MP/MLA Court

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Rajesh Kumar Pandey

Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court on Saturday rejected the application of ex-MP Dhananjaya Singh for stay of judgment of conviction by trial court dated March 6, 2024 in the case of kidnapping and extortion of the manager of Namami Ganga Project, while observing that it is the need of hour to have purity in politics.
However, the court granted him bail and directed to list his criminal appeal for final hearing after the paper book in the case is prepared.
Since the high court has refused to stay judgment of conviction in this case, as a result, the ex-MP will not be able to contest the Lok Sabha election. According to an apex court decision a person, who has been convicted and sentenced for more than two years cannot contest assembly or parliamentary election.

Initially Dhananjay himself wanted to contest the 2024 polls from Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat. After his conviction, his wife Srikala Reddy had filed her nomination from the seat. Hours before his bail Dhananjay was shifted from Jaunpur district jail to Bareilly jail following a complaint by a local MLA.
Singh was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by MP/MLA court of Jaunpur on March 6, 2024 this year. In the present criminal appeal before the high court, he had challenged his conviction.

However, while rejecting the application of Dhananjay Singh for stay of his conviction, Justice Sanjay Kumar Singh observed, “It is often seen that after conviction of a person who was or is Member of Legislative Assembly or Member of Parliament, used to take a general plea for stay of operation and effect of his conviction that he wants to contest election and in case the judgment of his conviction is not stayed, he will be deprived of his right to contest the election which will result in irreparable loss and injury to him, but this court feels that each and every case has to be decided on its own merit as well as considering all the surrounding circumstances and other attending factors including gravity of offences, nature of previous criminal history etc. No uniform and straight-jacket formula can be laid down for stay of conviction in all the cases”.

( Wife-Shrikala Dhananjay Singh)

“The purpose sought to be achieved by enacting disqualification on conviction for certain offences is to prevent person with criminal background from entering into politics and governance. Persons with criminal background pollute the process of election as they have no reservation from indulging in criminality to win an election. When persons having long criminal history turn into elected representatives and become law maker, they pose a serious threat to the functioning of a democratic system. The very future of our democracy gets imperilled when such offenders masquerade as leaders making a travesty of the entire system. The increasing trend of criminalisation of politics is

dangerous and has steadily been eating into the vitals of our democratic polity along with growing corruption of a humongous nature. Considering the facts of this case that the appellant – Dhananjaya Singh has secured acquittal in 28 criminal cases due to reasons that
witnesses turned hostile as pointed out on behalf of the state, which has not been controverted on behalf of the accused- Singh and that there is no dispute that at present, 10 criminal cases are still pending against him, I do not find any good ground, special reason or exceptional case to stay the operation and effect of impugned judgment of conviction dated March 5, 2024 of the appellant –Dhananjay Singh”.
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