Punjab Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi on Tuesday congratulated Local Government, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on his acquittal in the 1988 old rage case.
On December 27, 1988, Sidhu had allegedly hit 65-year-old Gurnam Singh after getting into an altercation with him in Patiala. However, defending his government's stance in Supreme Court, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said they had no legal option available.
It was alleged that when they reached the crossing, Gurnam Singh, driving a Maruti vehicle, found the Gypsy in the middle of the road and asked the occupants, Sidhu and Sandhu, to remove it.
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During the last hearing in the Supreme Court, the Punjab government said, "There is no evidence that the person in the road rage died because of a heart attack". In 2006, the High Court sentenced Sidhu and another accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu to 3 years imprisonment, but after 1999 trial, both the victim got bail.
Reversing the high court's ruling, the apex court acquitted him of a serious charge of culpable homicide (killing of a man that does not amount to murder) but found him guilty of a much lesser charge. The top court later suspended Sidhu's conviction to enable him to contest elections. The judgement came after the minister had filed an appeal against the three-year jail-term by the Punjab and Haryana High Court earlier. It sentenced them to three years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each. It was claimed by the prosecution that Sidhu had even fled the scene of the crime. This exchange, according to the prosecution led to a physical assault by the appellants on the victim who was pronounced dead when he was taken to the hospital. The man received injuries to his head, and subsequently died of brain haemorrhage.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S K Kaul reserved its order with the accused telling the court that evidence about the cause of death of the victim Gurnam Singh was "contradictory" and the medical opinion "vague".