Sidhu acquitted in road rage case

Ross Houston
May 15, 2018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside a lower court's order and acquitted Punjab Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 1988 Patiala road rage case. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul will pronounce its verdict in the case around 10:30 am.

The cricketer-turned-politician had allegedly hit an elderly 65-year-old man, Gurnam Singh after they had a heated argument over the issue of parking cars.

Reversing the High Court ruling, the apex court acquitted him of the serious charge of culpable homicide in the 1988 case.

Sidhu now has to only pay a fine of Rs 1,000 for voluntarily causing hurt under the Indian Penal Code.

Terming it as the victory for the people of Punjab, the state Health and Family Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra and the state Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi also congratulated their cabinet colleague for a big relief in a three-decade old road rage case.

"A1 (Sidhu) gave a single fist blow on the head of the deceased Gurnam Singh".

Senior advocate RS Cheema represented Sidhu and had questioned the evidence brought on record by the prosecution, saying "the most baffling and disturbing issue in the case is what we have on record with regard to the cause of death". In 2007, the Supreme Court suspended Mr Sidhu's sentence and granted him bail. Co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu, the current Punjab Tourism Minister was acquitted of all charges. It was claimed by the prosecution that Sidhu had even fled the scene of the crime. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead. Sidhu was awarded three years in jail for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

"Such being the evidence on record, the conclusion of the High Court that Gurnam Singh's death is caused by subdural hemorrhage but not cardiac arrest, in our opinion, is not based on any evidence on record and is a pure conjecture".

Last month, the Congress-led Punjab government, in which he is a cabinet minister, told the Supreme Court that Sidhu's involvement in the crime can not be denied, raising doubts about his relevance within the party.

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