The Madras High Court Friday declined to stay the conviction of former Tamil Nadu Minister Balakrishna Reddy, who is facing disqualification after he was sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment in a 1998 riot case by a special court.
Justice V Parthiban dismissed the plea by Reddy, seeking to suspend the conviction and three-year sentence till the final disposal of his appeal challenging the January 7 order of the special court.
The judge directed the court registry to post the main appeal challenging the trial court order to the first week of February for final disposal.
"This court is unable to comprehend as to how yesteryear law breaker can rightfully claim to continue as law framer in the teeth of the impugned conviction, by seeking indulgence of this court to suspend the conviction," the judge said.
"Though today, society does not expect saints in public life due to progressive erosion of traditional values and ethos, at least it can hope to look forward to have tolerant and saner persons with decorous conduct in public life," he observed.
Only then would the public at large feel that they were being governed by men of stature, he said.
No doubt, at the time when the incident took place, the appellant was not an MLA. However, what he had done, which was proved in the trial court, was an affront to the rule of law, the judge added.
On January 7, Reddy, a former youth welfare and sports minister, was convicted by J Shanthi, a special judge for cases involving MPs and MLAs in the 1998 riot case related to a protest against illicit liquor in Hosur..
Besides Reddy, who represents Hosur constituency in the assembly, the court sentenced 14 other accused to three years rigorous imprisonment.
As a result of the rejection of his application, Reddy has to surrender before the jurisdictional court, after which he would be lodged in a prison.
Reddy faces disqualification as an MLA in view of the conviction unless it is stayed by a higher court.
Under Section 8(3) of the RPA, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified for that period and a further six years after release.
According to the prosecution, during the demonstration held by the locals in Hosur in Krishnagiri district, about 300 km from here, the protesters allegedly went on a rampage and clashed with police, damaging several vehicles.
Three policemen were grievously injured, five buses were destroyed in stone pelting and a police vehicle and a bike were burnt in the violence.
Subsequently, an FIR was registered against 108 people, including Reddy, for various Indian Penal Code offences including rioting and wrongful restraint and under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act.
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