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SC begins final arguments in 1988 road-rage death case against Navjot Sidhu

In January 2007, Sidhu challenged the HC verdict in the top court, which stayed his conviction and sentence.

punjab Updated: Mar 20, 2018 22:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Navjot singh Sidhu,road rage case,Supreme Court
Senior advocate RS Cheema opened Sidhu’s defence in the case 11 years after the HC verdict was challenged. (HT Photo)

Final arguments in the 30-year-old road rage case against Punjab local bodies minister 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 of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Senior advocate RS Cheema opened Sidhu’s defence in the case 11 years after the HC verdict was challenged. Questioning 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 Gurnam succumbed to the injuries received after the assault. According to the FIR registered on December 27, 1988, Sidhu and Sandhu were reportedly present in a Gypsy parked near Sheranwala Gate Crossing in Patiala. Gurnam, who was in a Maruti car and on way to a bank, along with two more persons, asked the Gypsy occupants to give him way. Sidhu allegedly dragged Gurnam out and gave him fisticuffs. Sandhu reportedly took the keys of Gurnam’s car, attacked his friends before speeding away with Sidhu. Gurnam was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead.

Initially, Sidhu and Sandhu were tried for murder (Section 302 of the IPC) and were acquitted by the Patiala sessions judge in 1999. The Punjab government challenged the verdict in the high court, which convicted the two of culpable homicide not amounting to murder with three years of jail term.

In January 2007, Sidhu moved the top court, which stayed both his conviction and sentence. He was granted bail to enable him contest bypolls to the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency on the BJP ticket, which he vacated following his conviction.

In his arguments, Cheema placed reliance 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 he died due to an attack. The senior advocate will elaborate on his arguments on Wednesday.

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 22:10 IST