No jail term for Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in 1998 road rage case, fined by SC

Last Updated: Tue, May 15, 2018 12:27 hrs
Navjot Singh Sidhu

New Delhi: In a big relief to former cricketer and Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Supreme Court on Tuesday acquitted him from culpable homicide charges in a 30-year-old road rage case for which he was awarded three-year jail term.

A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul acquitted Sidhu of culpable homicide not amounting to murder charges, but convicted him for causing simple injury and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 without any jail term.

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

The incident dates back to December 27, 1988, when Sidhu and his cousin Rupinder Singh Sandhu beat up Gurnam Singh and two others in what was described as a road rage case. Gurnam Singh later died.

On April 12, the state government had supported the Punjab and Haryana High Court's order to convict Sidhu in the case. It had told the apex court that the 65-year-old victim had died after a fist blow from the cricketer-turned-politician.

The state said there was no evidence to suggest that Gurnam Singh died of cardiac arrest and not brain haemorrhage. In 1999, the trial court in Patiala had acquitted Sidhu and his cousin, saying that the medical report stated the death was due to a heart attack.

The High Court in December 2006 overturned the lower court's decision and said Gurnam Singh did not die of cardiac arrest but due to the injury to 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 Sidhu's counsel contended that the High Court findings were based on opinion and not on medical evidence.

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