While hearing today (May 15th) on the 1988 Road Rage case, the Supreme Court has reversed the High Court verdict, convicting Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for deliberately causing a fine of Rs.1000 / -. Sidhu will not be jailed after filling the penalty amount. In 2006, the High Court sentenced Sidhu and another accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu to 3 years imprisonment, but after 1999 trial, both the victim got bail. After reaching the Supreme Court, during the hearing in 2007, the court stayed the decision to convict both of them. After Supreme Court’s decision Sidhu was able to contest the assembly elections from Amritsar. In this case, the Punjab-Haryana High Court sentenced Sidhu to three years in jail. After the announcement of the judgement by the High Court, Sidhu had decided to approach the Supreme Court.
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 offence. A2 (Rupinder Singh Sandhu) is acquitted,” the bench said. Senior lawyer RS Cheema, who was leading Sidhu’s case, had said before the bench, the order of the High Court was not based on medical evidence, it was based on conjecture and there is no justification for such an estimate. He had said that Gurnam Singh was ambiguous about the exact cause of death. Six-member medical experts were asked to give their opinion on the exact cause of death, but some of them were not questioned as witnesses.
Both the accused-appellants were charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the death of one Gurnam Singh. The case of the prosecution was that in December 1988, the victim and the appellants got into a heated exchange over a vehicle belonging to the appellants which was allegedly parked in the middle of the road. This exchange, according to the prosecution led to a physical assault by the appellants on the victim who was pronounced dead when he was taken to the hospital. It was claimed by the prosecution that Sidhu had even fled the scene of the crime.