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Sidhu to appeal

Staff Correspondent

"On a dark night, stars shine brightest"

Review petition to challenge High Court's judgment procedure Punishment should have been severer, says family of deceased

Chandigarh: The prosecution in the trial of former cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and his associate Rupinder Singh Sandhu in a 1988 road rage case had sought exemplary punishment for the duo.

The defence counsel, citing previous precedents, sought leniency appealing to the court for a fine and probation. The defence argued that the event occurred in the spur of the moment and Mr. Sidhu had no intention to cause a fatal injury.

Mr. Sidhu had resigned from the Lok Sabha, after the High Court on December 1 found him and Mr. Sandhu guilty of culpable homicide not leading to murder as explained under Sections 304 (II) of the IPC. Both were involved in a brawl in which an elderly man, Gurnam Singh, sustained injuries that led to his death.

As soon as Mr. Sidhu, flanked by the former Union Minister, Arun Jaitley and the former MP, Satya Pal Jain, emerged from the court, a crowd of supporters raised slogans in favour of Mr. Sidhu and against the Punjab Government.

The former BJP MP from Amritsar reacted to the judgment saying, "On a dark night, stars shine the brightest." Insisting on his innocence, Mr. Sidhu thanked people for their overwhelming support. "I don't want sympathy. Sympathy is for the weak and I am not a weak man," he said.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Jaitley, who heads the BJP's legal cell, said that after completing the various formalities with the High Court, Mr. Sidhu would move the Supreme Court as early as possible. He said the review petition would challenge the High Court's procedure of judgment, while its implications would emerge after the Supreme Court applied its mind. "Mr. Sidhu enjoys a high status in the party and would continue to do so," he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Sidhu arrived at the residence of Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal to seek his "blessings." In the presence of the media, Mr. Badal while assuring full support, announced his decision not to accompany Mr. Sidhu to court, so that it would not be construed as an attempt to pressure the judiciary.

The trial, during the last 18 years, has witnessed an interesting turn of events. When the incident occurred, President's rule was imposed in Punjab. When the trial court acquitted Mr. Sidhu in 1998, an Akali Dal-BJP Government had filed the appeal, which the High Court disposed of now, when a Congress regime was at the helm of affairs.

Mr. Sidhu is the son of a advocate, Bhagwant Singh, who had served as Advocate-General of Punjab and was also Chairman of the Legal Cell of the Congress' State unit.