Thirty years on, final arguments in Navjot Singh Sidhu road rage case begin in SC
Navjot Singh Sidhu has been on bail since January 2007 after the Supreme Court stayed both his conviction and sentence by the Punjab and Haryana high court.india Updated: Mar 20, 2018 22:14 IST
Final arguments in the 30-year-old road rage case against Navjot Singh Sidhu began in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, as the cricketer-turned-politician made his submissions against the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s 2006 verdict convicting him for the offence.
Senior advocate RS Cheema opened Sidhu’s defence in the case eleven years after the HC verdict was challenged in the Supreme Court. He questioned the finding that the victim died after Sidhu and his friend Rupinder Singh Sandhu beat him up. He submitted before a bench of justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul that the victim, Gurnam Singh, died due to cardiac arrest.
Cheema contested the prosecution case that Singh succumbed to the injuries received in the assault. According to the FIR on December 27, 1988 Sidhu and Sandhu were reportedly present in a Gypsy SUV parked near Sheranwala Gate Crossing. Singh who was in a Maruti car and on way, to a bank along with two other persons asked the occupants to give him way following which Sidhu allegedly dragged Singh out and punched him. Sandhu reportedly took the keys of Singh’s car and attacked his friends before speeding away with Sidhu. Singh was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead.
Initially, Sidhu and Sandhu were tried for murder (Section 302, IPC) and were acquitted by the Patiala sessions court in 1999. The Punjab government challenged the verdict in the HC, which convicted the two in 2006 of culpable homicide not amounting to murder with three years of jail term that led to his resignation from the Lok Sabha.
Sidhu avoided a jail term by rushing to the Supreme Court in January 2007 and obtaining bail. The top court stayed both his conviction and sentence. The bail also enabled him contest the bypolls to the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket, which he vacated following his conviction.
In his arguments Cheema relied on medical journals to establish his point that an autopsy report can never attribute a natural death to cardiac arrest. To support his claim he read out portions of Modi’s medical journal and argued that the victim’s heart was weak and died due to a heart attack. The senior advocate will elaborate on his arguments on Wednesday.
At the outset the bench asked Cheema whether he disputed his client’s presence at the spot. The counsel responded by saying he would give his reply to the query during the course of his arguments.