Supreme Court: The bench of J. Chelameswar and SK Kaul, JJ held that Cricketer-turned-Politician Navjot Singh Sidhu cannot be held guilty for the death of one Gurnam Singh in the 30-year-old case wherein Sidhu got into a fight with the deceased over his right to way at a traffic light in Patiala. Sidhu had pulled the deceased out of his vehicle and inflicted fist blows. The incident eventually culminated in the death of Gurnam Singh. The Court, however, held that Sidhu had voluntarily caused hurt to Gurnam Singh punishable under Section 323 IPC.
On the plea of the complainant that in view of the celebrity status of Sidhu, the State went out of its way to shield his crime, the Court said:
“No doubt that there are lapses in the investigation. We cannot hazard a guess whether such lapses occurred because of the general inefficiency of the system or as a consequence of a concerted effort made to protect the accused. The law of this country is not that people are convicted of offences on the basis of doubts.”
The Court said that even if it is assumed that Sidhu admitted to his participation in the occurrence, in the light of the medical evidence on record, he cannot be held guilty of causing the death of Gurnam Singh.
Regarding the appropriate punishment, the Court said though Section 323 IPC stipulates a punishment of imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to Rs.1000/ or with both, in the circumstances of the case having regard to the facts that
- the incident is 30 years old;
- (ii) there is no past enmity between the accused and the deceased;
- (iii) no weapon was used by the accused; and
- (iv) the background in which it happened,
a punishment of imposition of fine of Rs.1000/ would meet the ends of justice in this case. [Rupinder Singh Sandhu v. State of Punjab, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 526, decided on 15.05.2018]