Sidhu not guilty of culpable murder: SC

1988 road rage case Supreme Court verdict on Navjot Sidhu's plea today

Sidhu acquitted in road rage case

The Supreme Court today convicted Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for voluntarily causing hurt to a 65-year-old man but spared him a jail term in the 1988 road rage case.

This judgment was delivered by a Division Bench comprising Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul a month after it was reserved on April 18 this year.

The Apex Court's order has come as a major relief to Sidhu by acquitting him of the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

A trial court had discharged Sidhu, but the state's high court reversed it and held him guilty of culpable homicide in 2006 and sentenced him for three years in jail. The 55-year-old cricketer-turned-politician won't go to jail and will retain his portfolio in the Punjab government. "I have sent a message to Rahul Gandhi ji & Priyanka Gandhi ji that my life is yours", ANI quoted the Congress minister soon after the Supreme Court acquitted Sindhu in the road rage case.

It was on 27 December 1988 that Sidhu and his friend Rupinder Singh Sandhu bashed up Gurnam Singh on the road over a trivial auto parking feud.

It also acquitted Sidhu's aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges saying there was no trustworthy evidence regarding his presence along with Sidhu at the time of the offence.

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The high court sentenced them to three-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on the convicts.

The court found Mr. Sidhu guilty of the lesser offence of voluntarily causing hurt under Section 323 of the IPC and directed him to pay a fine of ₹1,000 as punishment.

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. The victim was later taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

The police had claimed that Singh was beaten up by Sidhu who later fled the crime scene.

The hearing of the appeal went on and the Punjab government sought Sidhu's conviction in the Supreme Court.

The trial court's conclusion that Singh had died of cardiac arrest was incorrect, it said.

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