SC holds Sidhu guilty in road rage case but spares jail term

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Amritsar: Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and Congress party candidate, former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu during a joint press conference, in Amritsar, Jan 19, 2017. Photo - PTI

FILE: Amritsar: Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and Congress party candidate, former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu during a joint press conference, in Amritsar, Jan 19, 2017.
Photo – PTI

In a setback to Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Supreme Court held him guilty of voluntarily causing hurt in 1988 road rage case. The court, however, spared him a jail term and fined him Rs 1000 instead.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said Sidhu is guilty of Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of IPC and is fined Rs 1,000 for the offence.

“A1 (Sidhu) is guilty of Section 323 of IPC. Awarded no sentence but fine of Rs 1,000 for the offence. A2 (Rupinder Singh Sandhu) is acquitted,” the bench said.

The cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was awarded three-year jail term by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a 1988 road rage case.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul had on April 18 reserved its judgement in the case in which Sidhu, who had quit the BJP and joined the Congress days before the Punjab assembly election last year, had claimed that evidence about the cause of death of victim Gurnam Singh was contradictory and the medical opinion in this regard was “vague”.

Besides Sidhu, currently the Tourism Minister of Punjab, appeal was also filed by Rupinder Singh Sandhu, who was also convicted and sentenced to three-year jail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case.

According to the prosecution, Sidhu and Sandhu were allegedly in a Gypsy parked on the middle of a road near the Sheranwala Gate Crossing in Patiala on December 27, 1988, when the victim and two others were on their way to the bank to withdraw money.

Supreme Court

It was alleged that when they had reached the crossing, Gurnam Singh, driving a Maruti car, found the Gypsy in the middle of the road and asked the occupants, Sidhu and Sandhu, to remove it. This led to heated exchanges.

The police had claimed that Singh was beaten up by Sidhu who later fled the crime scene. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

During the arguments in the apex court, senior advocate RS Cheema, representing Sidhu, had questioned the evidence brought on record regarding the cause of death of the victim and had also referred to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Sidhu was acquitted of the murder charges by the trial court in September 1999. However, the high court had reversed the verdict and held Sidhu and Sandhu guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in December, 2006. It had sentenced them to three-year jail and imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on the convicts.

In 2007, the apex court had stayed the conviction of Sidhu and Sandhu in the case, paving the way for him to contest the by-poll for Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

(With inputs from PTI)