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Sidhu gets relief in road rage case: What it means for the Punjab Minister

BS Web Team | Agencies/ 15 May 18 | 01:39 PM

File photo of Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu

In a major respite to Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Supreme Court on Tuesday acquitted him of culpable homicide in a 30-year-old road rage case for which he had been awarded a three-year jail term.

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"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 Supreme Court, however, convicted him for causing simple injury and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 without any jail term.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting Sidhu for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentencing him to three years' imprisonment.

The court also acquitted the other accused, his cousin Rupinder Singh Sandhu, of all charges.

The verdict comes as a big relief for the cricketer-turned-politician as it will not lead to his disqualification as an MLA and a Minister in the Punjab government.

According to law, an MLA stands disqualified if he is sentenced to a jail term of two years or more. 

On April 12 this year, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government had supported the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court convicting the minister. It told the apex court that the 65-year-old victim had died after a fist blow from the cricketer-turned-politician.

ALSO READ: SC holds Navjot Sidhu guilty in 1988 road rage case, spares him jail term

The state had said there was no evidence at all to suggest that Gurnam Singh died due to cardiac arrest and not brain haemorrhage.

In 1999, the trial court in Patiala had acquitted Sidhu and his cousin saying the medical report stated that the death was due to a heart attack.

The High Court in December 2006 had overturned the lower court's decision. It had said that Gurnam Singh did not die of cardiac arrest but due to the injury on his temporal lobe. Sidhu was awarded three years in jail for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The apex court in 2007 stayed the conviction after counsel appearing for Sidhu had contended that the findings of the High Court were based on opinions and not medical evidence.

Sidhu's lawyer had argued that there were deficiencies in the medical evidence and the prosecution witnesses had given different statements on oath before the trial court.

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