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Road rage stumps Sidhu
Guilty of Patiala resident’s death in 1988
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 1
In a decision of far-reaching consequence, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today found BJP MP and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu guilty of having caused the death of a 65-year-old Patiala resident, Mr Gurnam Singh, in 1988.

Pronouncing its verdict in the open court, the Division Bench headed by Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill overruled the September 22, 1999, order of the Sessions Judge, Patiala, through which Mr Sidhu and another accused — Mr Rupinder Singh Sandhu — had been acquitted in the case.

The Bench fixed December 6 as the next date for hearing arguments on the issue of quantum of sentence to be awarded to Mr Sidhu and Mr Sandhu.

Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) under which Mr Sidhu and his accomplice have been adjudged guilty carries a maximum sentence of 10 years or fine or both.

In its 30-page judgment, the court, while turning down the contentions of the two accused, agreed with the stand of the state government and Mr Jaswinder Singh, the son of the deceased. The Punjab Government as well as the son of the deceased had challenged the Sessions Court order on the plea that it was perverse, unreasonable and not based on evidence on record.

As per the prosecution case, on December 27, 1988, Mr Sidhu and Mr Sandhu entered into a heated argument with the deceased and another person, Mr Jaswinder Singh, over the issue of parking of car near the head office of the State Bank of Patiala where Mr Sidhu was employed.

Mr Sidhu dragged the deceased out of his car and rained blow upon him, resulting in injuries to him. When Mr Jaswinder Singh tried to intervene, he was beaten by the second accused. After that, the accused fled from the spot. Mr Jaswinder Singh took an injured Gurnam Singh to the hospital, where he was declared dead. On his complaint, the Patiala Kotwali police registered a case and booked Mr Sidhu and his accomplice.

However, after hearing all sides and witnesses, the Sessions Judge, Patiala, acquitted Mr Sidhu of the charges under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

Setting aside the judgment of the lower court, the High Court said taking into consideration all circumstances of the case in totality and all possibilities and probabilities, it was of the opinion that the case of both the accused fell within the parameters of Section 304 Part II. The Bench also observed that the appellants had taken the stand that there was no suggestion or allegation that the main prosecution witnesses had any enmity or ill-will against the accused.

The court also refused to accept Mr Sidhu’s contentions that he had reached the spot after the incident and had seen the deceased lying on the ground and that he was being falsely framed in the case due to his international fame as a cricketer.

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