Former India cricketer and Punjab Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was granted acquittal under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder} and convicted under section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) in 1988 road rage case by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Sidhu was fined INR 1,000 for causing injury and was spared a jail term. The co-accused in the case were also acquitted. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced the verdict on a cross-appeal filed by the victim’s family seeking enhancement of the jail term to them.
“A1 (Sidhu) is guilty of Section 323 of IPC. Awarded no sentence but fine of Rs 1,000 for the offense. A2 (Rupinder Singh Sandhu) is acquitted,” the bench said.
Navjot Singh Sidhu is currently the tourism minister of Punjab under the Congress government, led by Captain Amarinder Singh. Co-accused was Rupinder Singh Sandhu, who was also convicted and sentenced to three years in jail.
On December 27, 1988, the duo, who were in a Gypsy, got into an argument with one Gurnam Singh over parking space in Patiala. Sidhu and Sandhu had allegedly dragged Gurnam out of his car and dealt him a series of blows, causing Gurnam’s death. When Jaswinder Singh, who was with Gurnam at the time tried to intervene, Sandhu also assaulted him.
Both Sidhu and Sandhu were acquitted by a trial court in 1999, but the High Court reversed the decision in December 2006 and held them guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The duo then challenged the verdict in Supreme Court.
According to the prosecution, the duo had an altercation with Gurnam near the Sheranwala Gate Crossing when the latter asked them to give way to their car. Police claimed that Gurnam was beaten up by Sidhu, who later fled the crime scene.
By Jatin Sharma