CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government on Thursday sought conviction of Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu in connection with a 30-year-old road rage case. It told the Supreme Court that the Punjab and Haryana High Court was correct in convicting its incumbent minister.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who deserted the BJP and joined the Congress days before the Punjab assembly elections in 2017, holds the tourism portfolio in the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Cabinet.
Counsel for the Punjab government told a bench of Justices comprising Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that the statement given by Sidhu denying his involvement in the case was false.
The state government counsel told the apex court that the victim had died after he was given fist blow by Sidhu. Identified as 65-year-old Gurnam Singh, the victim was a resident of Patiala.
Appearing for the Punjab government, Advocate Sanram Singh Saron said, "there is not a single evidence which suggests that the cause of death was cardiac arrest and not brain haemorrhage as concluded by the trial court".
He said, "The trial court verdict was rightly set aside by the High Court. Accused A1 (Navjot Singh Sidhu) had given fist blow to deceased Gurnam Singh leading to his death through brain haemorrhage".
Concluding his arguments, Saron said the trial court was wrong in its finding the man died of cardiac arrest and not brain haemorrhage.
The hearing will be continued on April 17, 2018 when Sidhu's counsel senior advocate R S Cheema will give the rebuttal to state government's argument.
Sidhu was acquitted of the murder charges of Gurnam Singh by the trial court in September 1999.
However, the High Court reversed the verdict and held him and co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in December, 2006.
The high court sentenced them to three-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on the convicts.
In 2007, the apex court stayed the conviction of Sidhu and Sandhu in the case, paving the way for him to contest the by-poll for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.
As per the prosecution case, Sidhu and Sandhu were allegedly present in a Gypsy parked near Sheranwala Gate Crossing on December 27, 1988, when Gurnam Singh, Jaswinder Singh and one other were going to bank to withdraw money for a marriage function.
As they reached Sheranwala Gate Crossing, Gurnam Singh driving a maruti car found a Gypsy in between the road and asked the occupant Sidhu and Sandhu to remove the vehicle for their passage following which the heated exchange took place.
Singh was beaten up by Sidhu and later fled the crime scene. The injured was taken to a hospital, where he was declared dead.
(With inputs from agencies)