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Posted at: Sep 13, 2018, 1:52 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2018, 11:14 AM (IST)

SC agrees to review plea in road rage case

SC agrees to review plea in road rage case
Navjot Sidhu. — File photo

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12

Three decades after a man died in a road rage case involving Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned politician is in a legal trouble again.

The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a petition seeking review of its May 15 order that let him off with a fine of Rs 1,000 for voluntarily causing hurt to the deceased under Section 323 of the IPC, which prescribes a maximum imprisonment of one year.

A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, which permitted filing of the review petition by the legal representative of complainant Jaswinder Singh (dead), condoned the delay and issued notice to Sidhu “restricted to the quantum of sentence”.

Earlier, a Bench of Justices J Chelameswar (since retired) and Kaul had acquitted him of the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in connection with the 1988 case in which one Gurnam Singh had died after allegedly being beaten up by Sidhu and his friend RS Sandhu.

While acquitting Sidhu of the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the top court had held him guilty of voluntarily causing hurt to Gurnam Singh and fined him Rs 1,000.

Setting aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s verdict, the top court had acquitted co-accused  Sandhu of all charges.

Despite being held guilty, Sidhu’s political career had remained untouched as he was not required to go to jail and he did not become ineligible to contest elections. This is because of the fact that under Section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person gets disqualified as a lawmaker and becomes ineligible to contest elections only if he/she gets a jail term of two years or more.

Now if the SC sentences him to imprisonment even for a few months, he would be forced to resign and his political career may take a beating. Review petitions are generally heard “in chamber” and not in open courts by a procedure called “hearing by circulation”, where advocates representing the parties are not allowed to argue. But in exceptional cases, the court allows open court hearing if convinced about its need.

Holding Sidhu guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the Punjab and Haryana HC had given him three-year imprisonment. But the SC had said: “The material on record leads us to the only possible conclusion that we can reach that the first accused (Sidhu) voluntarily caused hurt to Gurnam Singh punishable under Section 323 of IPC.”

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