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Sidhu Freed of Homicide Charge in 1988 Road Rage Case, Can Remain a Minister

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay K Kaul set aside the order of the high court and said the three-time Amritsar MP could be sentenced only for causing hurt in the case concerned.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:May 15, 2018, 11:46 PM IST
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Sidhu Freed of Homicide Charge in 1988 Road Rage Case, Can Remain a Minister
Navjot Singh Sidhu. (Photo: PTI)
New Delhi: In a huge relief for cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Supreme Court on Tuesday acquitted him of culpable homicide charge in the 1988 road rage case.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay K Kaul set aside the order of the high court and said the three-time Amritsar MP could be sentenced only for causing hurt in the case concerned.

The bench imposed a fine of Rs 6000 on Sidhu after holding him guilty under Section 323 of the IPC.

The court also exonerated co-accused in the case, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, of all the charges.

The bench dismissed the plea by the son of the victim and an injured eye-witness for enhancing the punishment.

As Sidhu has not been sentenced to jail for two years or more, he can remain a MLA and a Minister in the Punjab government.

Under the Representation of the People Act, a person is to be disqualified only if he is sentenced to a jail term of two years or more.

In his defense, Sidhu's lawyer had argued that the death of the victim was due to a heart attack and that there was not any serious assault on him.

Punjab government, where Sidhu serves as a cabinet minister, had however supported the prosecution's case and sought his conviction to be confirmed by the apex court.

According to the prosecution, on December 27, 1988, when Gurnam asked the occupants of a Gypsy to give way to his car, Sidhu got out, allegedly dragged Gurnam out and gave him fisticuffs. After the assault, Sidhu and Sandhu sped away and reportedly took the keys of Gurnam’s car along. When Gurnam was taken to a hospital, he was declared brought dead by the doctors.

Initially, Sidhu and the co-accused were tried for murder in connection with the death of Patiala resident Gurnam Singh in a road-rage case in 1988. But they were acquitted by the Patiala sessions judge in 1999.

The state government and the son of the deceased then challenged this verdict in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Subsequently, Sidhu and Sandhu were sentenced to three years in jail each by the High Court in 2006. Their conviction had come under under Section 304(II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).

Sidhu appealed against this verdict in the Supreme Court, which stayed his conviction and suspended the sentence in January 2007.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, now the Union Finance Minister, along with veteran lawyer Harish Salve, had appeared for Sidhu in the apex court.

By this time, Sidhu had joined BJP and won the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2004.

One of the chief grounds for staying his conviction was that Sidhu, on moral grounds, had resigned after the HC verdict but wanted to contest again to win back Amritsar in the bypoll.

This stay order enabled Sidhu to carry on with his political endeavours while the matter remained pending before the Court ever since.

After the HC judgment, while Sidhu had challenged his conviction, son of the victim and an injured eye-witness also moved the top court for enhancing Sidhu's punishment.

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