Punjab

Supreme Court reserves verdict on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s appeal in road rage case

Appearing for Navjot Singh Sidhu, senior advocate R.S. Cheema said that the evidence brought on record regarding the cause of death of the victim were ‘indefinite and contradictory’.

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Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The Hush Post: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on the appeal filed by Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in a 1998 road rage case. Sidhu had challenged the Punjab & Haryana High Court verdict convicting and sentencing him to three years imprisonment.

The matter is being heard by a bench comprising Justices J. Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul which reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments.  The court also reserved its verdict on the appeal filed by Rupinder Singh Sandhu, who along with Sidhu, was sentenced to three years in jail by the high court in the case.

Appearing for Navjot Singh Sidhu, senior advocate R.S. Cheema said that the evidence brought on record regarding the cause of death of the victim were ‘indefinite and contradictory’, adding that the medical opinion on Gunam Singh’s death was ‘vague’, reported The Indian Express.

According to The Hindu, Sidhu had on Tuesday told the apex court that the findings of the Punjab & Haryana High Court court were based on “opinion” and not on medical evidence. He had also told the bench that there were ‘deficiencies’ in the medical evidence and the prosecution witnesses had given different statements on oath before the trial court.

The counsel for the state had earlier told the apex court that Navjot Singh Sidhu had given fist blow to deceased Gurnam Singh leading to his death through brain hemorrhage, countering the trial court findings which had stated that man had died of cardiac arrest.

Last Thurdsay, the Punjab government had told the Supreme Court that Sidhu’s conviction by the high court should be upheld.  The move had encouraged the Opposition in the state to demand Sidhu’s resignation.  Meanwhile, the family of the victim had on Monday claimed they have been offered money and also threatened to withdraw their case.

The Supreme Court is hearing Sidhu’s appeal in the three decade old road rage case.  The cricketer-turned politician was pronounced guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2006. A friend of his, Rupinder Singh, was also convicted in the case. Both were sentenced to imprisonment of 3 years each. The Supreme Court, however, stayed the conviction and suspended the sentence in January 2007 after Sidhu appealed against the verdict.

The case dates back to 27 December, 1988 when Sidhu and Sandhu had gone to Sherawale market in Patiala. The two got involved into a heated argument with 65-year-old Gurnam Singh over a petty issue of car parking. Gurnam was accompanied by his nephew at the time of the incident. According to the prosecution, Sidhu, in a fit of rage dragged Gurnam out and gave him fisticuffs. Gurnam was rushed to the hospital but was declared brought dead by the doctors.

Sidhu and Sandhu were initially tried for Gurnam’s murder and acquitted by the Patiala Sessions Judge in 1999. The decision was challenged by Gurnam’s son and the state government in Punjab and Haryana High Court which had held Sidhu and Sandhu guilty.

If Supreme Court upholds Sidhu’s conviction, his political career will come to an abrupt end as he would be disqualified for six years after his release from the jail.

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