SC slaps Rs 1,000 fine on Sidhu for road rage

Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI/FILE

The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted Punjab minister and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu for a milder charge of causing voluntary hurt to a man in a 1988 road rage case.

The court spared him a jail term and merely imposed a fine of Rs 1,000  for the incident, which had resulted in the death of the 65-year-old man before he could be taken to a hospital after a fist blow from Sidhu.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul took into account things such as the incident dating back to 30 years, no past enmity between the accused and the deceased Gurnam Singh and no weapon being used by Sidhu, to arrive at its judgement.

The court declined to consider a plea by complainant Jaswinder Singh, who accompanied the deceased in the car on the fateful date — December 27, 1988 — in Patiala, that the state went out of its way to shield the accused because of his celebrity status.

It also rejected a plea to consider the CD containing an interview of Sidhu that allegedly proved his guilt. 

"No doubt, there are lapses in the investigation. We cannot hazard a guess whether such a thing occurred because of the general inefficiency of the system or as a consequence of concerted effort made to protect the accused. The law of this country is not that people are convicted of offfences on the basis of doubt," the bench said.

The top court set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement on an appeal filed by Sidhu and his co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu.

The high court convicted them of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, reversing their acquittal.

The court ruled that Sidhu voluntarily caused hurt to Singh punishable under Section 323 of the IPC.

"It all started with a dispute regarding the right of way resulting in a brawl between them, a very common sight in this country. Apparently, some verbal exchange took place between the accused and the deceased. It is not clear from the record what exactly are the words spoken by them except a vague indication that some intemperate language was employed by both of them, nor is it clear who initiated the exchange," the bench said.

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SC slaps Rs 1,000 fine on Sidhu for road rage

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