Road Rage Case: Seeking Enlargement Of Scope Of Notice Is Abuse Of Process- Navjot Singh Sidhu Before SC
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu told the Supreme Court on Friday that the plea seeking enlargement of scope of notice in the matter relating to review of the sentence awarded to him in a 1988 road rage case is an abuse of process.
Though the Apex Court had in May 2018 held Sidhu guilty of the offence of "voluntarily causing hurt" to a 65-year-old man in the case, it spared him of a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.
A Bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice S K Kaul had earlier asked Sidhu to file his response on the application which has said that his conviction in the case should not have been merely for the lesser offence of voluntarily causing hurt.
"It is an extraordinary case in the negative sense which does not merit your lordships entertainment because it has potential to be subversive of the basic foundations of criminal justice and therefore, an abuse of process", Senior Advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Sidhu, told the bench during the arguments.
He referred to the May 2018 judgement of the apex court which had said the medical evidence was absolutely uncertain regarding the cause of death of Gurnam Singh.
The Apex Court, which heard the submissions advanced by the advocates appearing for the petitioners and Sidhu, reserved its verdict.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the petitioners, also referred to the apex court judgement of 2018 in the matter and said the post mortem report of the victim says about the injury sustained by the victim.
He referred to two earlier verdicts of the apex court and said the matter needs reconsideration.
"I am not asking for re-appreciation of evidence... I am going by the admitted facts in your lordships judgement", Luthra said.
At the fag end of the hearing, Singhvi said the petitioners are seeking review of a review by filing the application seeking enlargement of notice in the matter.
"The timing was before the elections. Now, there are no elections. I don't know why this was suddenly activated," he said.
To this, the Bench said, "It has nothing to do with the elections".
The Bench observed that notice was issued to Sidhu but he did not enter appearance for over three years.
In September 2018, the Apex Court had agreed to examine a review petition filed by the family members of the deceased and had issued notice, restricted to the quantum of sentence.
In a reply filed to the application seeking enlargement of scope of notice, Sidhu had said the Apex Court, after a careful perusal of the contents of the review petitions, has restricted its scope to quantum of sentence.
It is well settled that whenever this court issues notice confining to sentence, arguments will be heard only to that effect unless some extraordinary circumstance/material is shown to the Court. It is respectfully submitted that the contents of the present applications reiterate only overruled arguments and do not show any extraordinary material, calling for interference on all aspects from this court, the reply said.
Sidhu had said the petitioners have moved the applications after a lapse of about three-and-a-half-year from the issuance of limited notice on September 11, 2018 and this unaccounted delay without any cogent explanation raises doubts on the bona fides of the applications.
The reply had said the Apex Court had perused the entire evidence on record, including medical evidence, to conclude that cause of death of Gurnam Singh could not be ascertained.
Sidhu had said as there was no evidence whatsoever that the death was caused by the single blow by the answering respondent (even assuming the incident did take place), this court rightly concluded that the same would fall under section 323 IPC.
Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code entails a maximum jail term of up to one year or with a fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.
The Apex Court had on May 15, 2018, set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting Sidhu of culpable homicide and awarding him a three-year jail term in the case, but had held him guilty of causing hurt to a senior citizen.
The Court had also acquitted Sidhu's aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges saying there was no trustworthy evidence regarding his presence along with Sidhu at the time of the offence in December 1988.
Later in September 2018, the Court had agreed to examine a review petition filed by the family members of the deceased.
The Apex Court's May 2018 verdict had come on the appeal filed by Sidhu and Sandhu challenging the high court's 2006 judgment convicting them.
According to the prosecution, Sidhu and Sandhu were in a Gypsy parked in the middle of a road near the Sheranwala Gate Crossing in Patiala on December 27, 1988, when the victim and two others were on their way to the bank to withdraw money.
When they reached the crossing, it was alleged, Gurnam Singh, driving a Maruti car, found the Gypsy in the middle of the road and asked the occupants, Sidhu and Sandhu, to remove it. This led to heated exchanges.
Sidhu was acquitted of murder charges by the trial court in September 1999.
However, the high court had reversed the verdict and held Sidhu and Sandhu guilty under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC in December 2006.
It had sentenced them to three years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on them.
With PTI inputs