Sidhu not guilty of culpable murder: SC


The Hindu

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Sidhu not guilty of culpable murder: SC

 Imposes fine on him in road rage case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday concluded that Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was not guilty of culpable homicide in a 30-year-old road rage case which resulted in the death of a man.

A Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and S.K. Kaul, in a 46-page judgment, found that the prosecution could not prove that Mr. Sidhu caused the death of Gurnam Singh in 1988 after a roadside brawl on the right of way. Though the Supreme Court conceded that Mr. Sidhu gave a single blow to the man’s head, medical evidence is “absolutely uncertain” about the cause of Singh’s death shortly after the run-in.

The court found Mr. Sidhu guilty of the lesser offence of voluntarily causing hurt under Section 323 of the IPC and directed him to pay a fine of ₹1,000 as punishment.

The trial court had acquitted Mr. Sidhu and his co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu, represented by senor advocate R. Basant and advocate Karthik Ashok.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court however found them guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder on the ground that the blow to the head caused a subdural haemorrhage. The Supreme Court dismissed the finding of death by subdural hemorrhage as “pure conjecture.”

“A1 (Sidhu) gave a single fist blow on the head of the deceased Gurnam Singh. No weapon was used, nor was there any past enmity between the accused and the deceased. It all started with a dispute regarding the right of way resulting in a brawl between them, a very common sight in this country,” Justice Chelameswar, who authored the judgment, observed.

“The incident is 30 years old. In the background in which it happened, we are of the opinion, a punishment of imposition of fine of ₹1,000 would meet the ends of justice in this case,” the Supreme Court reasoned. It acquitted co-accused Sandhu of all charges.

The court said “no doubt that there are lapses in the investigation.” But it added that the “law of this country is not that people are convicted of offences on the basis of doubts.”

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