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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sidhu walks out free ~ Supreme Court acquits of culpable homicide

Experience is the comb that life gives you when you are bald; Age has been the perfect fire extinguisher for flaming youth.;  Beware of the naked man who offers you his shirt.;  A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef;  The ball went so high that it could brought an airhostess down with it;  Its very difficult to kill a man who is hell bent upon committing suicide!"; No one reads a book to reach the middle - its the end that matters ****

Words from the Cricketer who made his debut in Ahmedabad in 1983 – remember seeing him play at Chepauk against Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, survive for sometime – dubbed as a ‘strokeless wonder’ returned with greater resolve at the same ground in Reliance WC hitting Australian attack for 5 sixers that had Mcdermoot, Bruce Reid and Simon O Donnel.  After retiring, his style of speaking, sidhuisms and colour of turban were to be watched out !

Every played Road Rash on Computers ?  the motorcycle-racing video game series by Electronic Arts has players participating in violent, illegal street races.  The game's title is based on the slang term for the severe friction burns that can occur in a motorcycle fall where skin comes into contact with the ground at high speed.  The game takes place in California, on progressively longer two-lane roads. The two-player mode only allows one person to play at a time. There are 14 other opponents in a race.  It is violent, where apart from racing, players kick, push and crash to get others out of the way. 

One could easily notice this – upon reaching Chennai Central, in hot and humid weather, things could appear drastically changed for the visitor – many on road seemingly are overcharged and in a mood to fight, the autowallah or the Transport corporation exchanges expletives – not many are ready to give room to the other roaduser and one could even see people fighting on the road afrter violating the traffic rules too.  Road rage is aggressive or angry behaviuor exhibited by a driver of a road vehicle, which includes rude gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver or a pedestrian in an effort to intimidate or release frustration. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults and collisions that result in serious physical injuries or even death. If one were to caught in a volatile situation in a traffic jam – try to exchange a smile, pleasantry, try to wriggle out cool, there is nothing one loses by being soft and smooth – let others who have so many urgent works win the situation, let us be calm and a few minutes lost are better lost, if we are to retain our mental peace.

Navjot Singh was no stranger to controversies.  Sidhu walked out of India's 1996 tour of England citing differences with captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Following this, he was banished from the team for ten Tests by the BCCI eventually making a return in the 1996–97 tour of West Indies. In the second Test at Queen's Park Oval, he scored a double century. The 201, his highest score in Tests lasted 11 hours. Known for his tendency to attack spinners, he cracked eight sixes in 124 against Sri Lanka in 1993–94, and four fifties in five innings against the Australians in 1997–98, deliberately singling out Shane Warne !

After 19 years of cricketing  career and few more as commentator, Sidhu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004 and contested the general election from Amritsar. He won the election and held the seat till 2014 winning also the next election. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2016 from Punjab before he resigned from the position the same year and quitting the party. In 2017, he joined the Indian National Congress and was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Amritsar East.

The Supreme Court today  set aside a lower court's order and acquitted Punjab Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the 1988 Patiala road rage case. However, the bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul found him guilty of causing simple injury and imposed a fine without any jail term. The cricketer-turned-politician has been convicted under Section 323 of Indian Penal Code which says whosoever voluntarily causes hurt, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.The court also acquitted Sidhu's aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu in the case.

Earlier in April, the Congress government in Punjab has asked the Supreme Court to uphold Sidhu's conviction in the decades-old case. The apex court had granted bail to the cricketer-turned-politician after he was sentenced to three years in prison by the Punjab and Haryana high court. The victim's family has appealed to the SC to enhance the three year jail time given by the lower court.

The cause of action arose way back in Dec 1988, when Sidhu allegedly hit 65-year-old Gurnam Singh after getting into an altercation with him in Patiala. Singh was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead.The division bench comprising Justices Mehtab Singh Gill and Baldev Singh also convicted accomplice Rupinder Singh Sandhu but suspended their sentences (three years imprisonment), during the pendency of their appeals in the Supreme Court. In 2007, the Supreme Court suspended Sidhu's conviction to enable him to contest elections.

So, it is the end of the road for the victim as also Sidhu – on  different planes !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th May 2018

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