Businessman Sanjeev Nanda was spared further imprisonment even as the Supreme Court on Friday upheld his conviction in the 13-year-old BMW accident case and directed him to pay Rs. 50 lakh to the Centre.
The money will be part of a fund to compensate road-accident victims in cases where the offenders are untraceable.
The court also directed Nanda to perform community service for two years. It asked the union ministry of social justice and empowerment to decide in two months on the job that Nanda, grandson of a former navy chief, will perform.
A bench of justice Deepak Verma and justice KS Radhakrishnan partially set aside the order of the Delhi high court, which had convicted Nanda for rash and negligent driving, and pronounced him guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for driving a BMW in a drunken state during the early hours of January 10, 1999, and running over six persons in their sleep. Imprisonment in such cases can go up to 10 years.
Though the Delhi high court had jailed Nanda for two years (and upheld by the Supreme Court), he did not have to stay in prison for more than 19 months because of his “good conduct”.
During the trial, the case became controversial when Nanda’s then counsel RK Anand was caught in a sting operation that exposed his collusion with the special public prosecutor to allegedly fix eyewitnesses.
Nanda, who rarely missed hearings, was absent in court.
As the court gave its order, Nanda’s wife broke down. However, his mother, Renu Nanda, and father, Suresh Nanda, thanked senior advocate Ram Jethmalani and counsel Sandeep Kapoor for being with them. Renu Nanda said: “I have more faith in God today than I ever did before.”
The Nandas had paid Rs. 65 lakh to the victims’ families.