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Sidhu escapes jail term with a fine

15 May 2018

The Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce its judgment on Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in 1988 road rage case. A bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul had reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments on 18 April. However, the Punjab government appealed to the apex court to uphold three-year imprisonment. "But, as noticed, the medical evidence is absolutely uncertain regarding the cause of death of Gurnam Singh", the bench said.

Last month, Sidhu's advocate argued in the court that it was not his client's fault behind the death of the victim 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.

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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. It had told the Supreme Court that the Punjab and Haryana High Court was correct in convicting its incumbent minister. The victim was later taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

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. It was claimed by the prosecution that Sidhu had even fled the scene of the crime.

It said the only fact established on evidence was that Sidhu gave a single fist blow on the head of the deceased Gurnam Singh but no weapon was used, nor was there any past enmity between them.

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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.

A year later, things seemed to finally boil down when Sidhu surrendered in a Chandigarh court, Following this, with Arun Jaitley, then senior leader, helped Sidhu get a stay on the conviction.

The Congress government in Punjab statements came after a local court reversed the judgement of a trial court, which had earlier discharged the Punjab minister, and sentenced him to serve three years in jail.

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Sidhu escapes jail term with a fine