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SC grants bail to Sidhu in murder case

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Last updated on: January 12, 2007 18:09 IST

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is in Patiala jail, was on Friday granted bail by the Supreme Court, which also sought response from the Punjab government on his plea seeking suspension of his conviction in a road rage case to contest the Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll.

While granting bail to the 43-year-old former international cricketer, a division bench comprising Justice G P Mathur and Justice L S Panta asked him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and surety of like amount before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Patiala.

The court also admitted his appeal against the conviction and sentence and fixed January 17 to hear his plea seeking stay of the conviction.

Sidhu, who resigned as Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentarian following his conviction and a three-year imprisonment last month for culpable homicide, was sent to Patiala jail after he surrendered to a court in Chandigarh on Thursday.

Sidhu's friend and co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu was also granted bail.

The court also admitted the appeal filed by the victim's relative Jaswinder Singh seeking enhancement of the sentence and including the offence of murder under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Sidhu said, it was a clear case of acquittal as held by the trial court and the conviction by the High Court was based on the ground of defective investigation.

However, when the bench said that normally the court does not suspend or stay the conviction, Salve said the High Court verdict was coming in way of political career of the former cricketer.

It was only a case of simple injury and Sidhu could have been let off on probation, he submitted, adding that there was no evidence against him and that the High Court had wrongly concluded that sub-dural hemorrhage resulted in the death of the victim.

The senior advocate said trial court acquittal of Siddhu was based on the pathological report of the victim, which had opined that the man had collapsed due to strain.      

However, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the complainant refuted the contention and said it was directly a case of homicide as the victim died allegedly of the fist blow and there was no dispute about the incident where Sidhu was present.

He said it was alleged that that the 65-year-old victim was pulled from the car and was inflicted with fist blows.      

"As a responsible citizen the accused (Sidhu) should have taken the man to the hospital,"
 he said, countering the argument that his political career was at stake.

However, the court in a lighter vein said: 'at that time he was not a law maker.'

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