THE SUPREME Court on Tuesday will pronounce its verdict in a 1988 road rage case in which cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was convicted and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Punjab and Haryana
The judgment will be on a plea by Sidhu, now Punjab’s Tourism Minister, against a three-year jail term awarded to him in the case. A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul will pronounce its verdict in the case around 10:30 am. The bench had, on April 18, reserved its judgment in the case.
There are two accused in the case – Sidhu and Rupinder Singh Sandhu – who was also convicted and sentenced to three-years in jail.
Sidhu, who quit the BJP and joined Congress before the previous Punjab assembly elections and is currently the Tourism Minister of Punjab – and Sandhu were acquitted by the trial court in September 1999. However, the High Court reversed this in December 2006 and held them guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. They challenged this in the Supreme Court which stayed the conviction pending the appeal in 2007.
According to the prosecution, the duo who were in a Gypsy had an altercation with Gurnam Singh near the Sheranwala Gate Crossing on December 27, 1988 when the latter asked them to give way to their car. Police claimed that Singh was beaten up by Sidhu who later fled the crime scene. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.
Senior advocate R S Cheema representing Sidhu, had questioned the evidence brought on record by the prosecution, saying “the most baffling and disturbing issue in the case is what we have on record with regard to the cause of death. The evidence brought on record was obscure, indefinite and also contradictory.”Cheema contended that the medical opinion was “vague.”
The Amarinder Singh-led Congress government on April 12 backed the conviction of the duo.
The state also thrashed the defence out up by Sidhu that the victim had died of cardiac arrest and said, “there is not a single evidence which suggest that the cause of death was cardiac arrest and not brain hemorrhage.”
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S K Kaul reserved its order with the accused telling the court that evidence about the cause of death of the victim Gurnam Singh was “contradictory” and the medical opinion “vague”.