Sidhu puts on courageous face after Punjab govt backs his conviction

Navjot Sidhu

The Punjab government on Thursday sought conviction of Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu in connection with a 30-year-old road rage case. While there was no formal reaction from the Chief Minister's office, Nanda, who is in Bangkok, said, "The state could not have changed its stand in the FIR that was registered in a murder case".

The incident dates back to December 27, 1988, when Sidhu allegedly hit one Gurnam Singh, 65, in an incident of road rage in Patiala, Punjab, resulting in death of the latter.

Sidhu, now the Local Bodies and Tourism Minister in the Amarinder Singh government, was acquitted along with co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu by the trial court in September 1999.

The Supreme Court commenced hearing the final arguments in the case on Thursday, almost 30 years after the man died.

The government also asserted that the High Court order convicting him of culpable homicide of is perfectly valid and his punishment for three years was "according to the law".

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Sessions Court Judge of Patiala had on September 22, 1999, acquitted Sidhu and his associate, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, due to lack of evidence in the case.

The Tourism, Culture and Local Government minister on Friday said the "explanation" for the state government's stand in the Supreme Court can be given by the chief minister. The Punjab government counsel Sanram Singh Saron conveyed to the Supreme Court that there was no evidence to support the trial court's conclusion that the victim had died of cardiac arrest.

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.

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. Aam Aadmi Party MLA and the Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira said, "It is now up to Sidhu whether he can sit in the same Cabinet and the government which finds him guilty". "Whatever the verdict be, I will alone bear the burden", said Sidhu on the sidelines of a road safety week function.

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