SC holds Navjot Sidhu guilty in road rage case, spares him jail term

NEW DELHI
15 May 2018

The Supreme Court today convicted Punjab tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for voluntarily causing injury to a 65-year-old man but spared him a jail term in the 1988 road rage case and imposed a Rs 1,000 fine on him.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul reversed the findings of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had convicted the cricketer-turned-politician for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and had sentenced him to three years in jail. "A1 (Sidhu) is guilty of Section 323 of IPC. Awarded no sentence but fine of Rs 1,000 for the offence," the bench said while pronouncing the judgment. Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) entails a maximum jail term up to one year or with a fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both. The bench, however, exonerated Sidhu's aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu, who was also awarded a three-year jail term by the high court in the case.
"We have completely reversed the findings as far as A2 (Rupinder Singh Sandhu) is concerned," the bench said while acquitting him. The apex court's verdict came on the appeal filed by Sidhu, who had quit the BJP and joined the Congress days before the Punjab Assembly elections last year, and Sandhu, challenging the high court's 2006 judgment convicting them. According to the prosecution, Sidhu and Sandhu were in a Gypsy parked in 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. When they reached the crossing, it was alleged, 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.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh today hailed the Supreme Court's verdict. "I welcome SC judgement in the road rage case against @sherryontopp. His acquittal on culpable homicide charges shows justice has prevailed. I'd always maintained that there was nothing willful in his act, and the judges have also upheld the same. Law has duly taken its course," Singh tweeted. Ironically, on April 12, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government had favoured in the top court the High Court's judgement convicting and awarding of the three-year jail term to Sidhu.