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SC to reconsider fine punishment to Sidhu in road-rage case

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Navjot Singh Sidhu

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to reconsider the quantum of punishment to former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu as he had been let off with a fine of just Rs 1,000 for causing simple injury in a 30-year-old road-rage case.

Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul admitted a review petition filed by a son of deceased Gurnam Singh and issued notice to Sidhu, now a Punjab Cabinet Minister.

“Permission to file the review petition is granted… issue notice restricted to quantum of sentence qua respondent no. 1 – Navjot Singh Sidhu,” the order said.

On May 15, the apex court had acquitted Sidhu of the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, for which he had been awarded three-year jail.

A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar (now retired) and Justice Kaul had, however, convicted him for causing simple injury and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 without any jail term.

The court also acquitted co-accused and his cousin Rupinder Singh Sandhu.

In its judgment, the bench had said: “No doubt that there are lapses in the investigation. We cannot hazard a guess whether such lapses occurred because of the general inefficiency of the system or as a consequence of a concerted effort made to protect the accused. The law of this country is not that people are convicted of offences on the basis of doubts.”

Setting aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict that convicted Sidhu, the apex court had said: “… the first accused cannot be held to be responsible for causing the death of Gurnam Singh. Therefore, the judgment under appeal is required to be set aside and is accordingly set aside. The material on record leads us to the only possible conclusion that we can reach that the first accused voluntarily caused hurt to Gurnam Singh punishable under Section 323 of the IPC.”

Section 323 (voluntary causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code stipulates a punishment of imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.

The bench had refused to award jail term to Sidhu and only imposed a fine, while considering that the “case is 30-year-old, there was no past enmity between the accused and the deceased, no weapon was used by the accused and the background in which it happened”.

The incident dates back to December 27, 1988, when Sidhu and his cousin had beaten up Gurnam Singh and two others in what was described as a road-rage case. Gurnam Singh later died.

On April 12 this year, the Punjab government supported the High Court decision to convict Sidhu. It told the apex court that the 65-year-old victim had died after a fist blow from the cricketer turned politician.

The state had said there was no evidence at all to suggest that Gurnam Singh died due to cardiac arrest and not brain haemorrhage.

In 1999, the trial court in Patiala had acquitted Sidhu and his cousin, saying the medical report stated that the death was due to a heart attack.

The High Court in December 2006 had overturned the lower court’s decision. Sidhu was awarded three years in jail.

The apex court in 2007 stayed the conviction after counsel appearing for Sidhu had contended that High Court findings were based on opinions and not medical evidence.

Sidhu’s lawyer had argued that there were deficiencies in the medical evidence and the prosecution witnesses had given different statements on oath before the trial court.

Business

Centre suspends fresh IBC proceedings till Dec

In June, the Union Cabinet approved the suspension, which came into effect from March 25 and was brought in through the ordinance route.

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Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, Sep 24 : In a major relief for stressed companies amid the pandemic woes, the Centre on Thursday announced the suspension of fresh insolvency proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) by three more months till December.

In a gazette notification, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) said that the suspension on operation of Section 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC has been extended.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 10A of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, the Central Government has extended the suspension of sections 7,9, 10 of the IBC for a further period of three months,” the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman said in a tweet.A

She said that the decision reinforces the government’s commitment to protecting businesses.

“It also gives companies breathing time to recover from financial stress,” she said.

In June, the Union Cabinet approved the suspension, which came into effect from March 25 and was brought in through the ordinance route.

Section 7 of the IBC allows initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process by financial creditor, while Section 9 allows operational creditors to file application for initiation of insolvency process by operational creditor.

Further, a corporate debtor who has committed a default, can file for initiation of a corporate insolvency resolution process under Section 10 of IBC.

Although the decision to extend the suspension has brought much-needed relief for business stressed in the midst of the pandemic, sector experts, however, have raised concerns regarding the financial stress it may create once the suspension is revoked.

Sumit Batra, Partner at India Law Alliance, said: “Another extension of three months beyond 25.09.2020 for initiation of bankruptcy against defaulting corporate entities will further aggravate the situation and lead to an unprecedented rise in fresh filing once the suspension is revoked.”

Noting that while the logic of suspension for not being able to initiate proceedings under Section 7 and 9 of IBC, seems justified to an extent that lockdown triggered due to widespread outbreak of Covid-19 affected the paying capacity of the corporate debtors, but “why such a suspension is being imposed for applications under section 10 seems illogical”.

The intent and extent of section 10 petition is to enable the corporate debtor to initiate insolvency against themselves in order to resolve the financial stress in a time-bound manner, Batra said, adding that, therefore, Section 10 petitions should have been excluded from being covered under this suspension.

In a recent debate in the Parliament, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had defended the decision to suspend Section 10 saying that in view of the economic situation, the companies filing for bankruptcy would not have achieved high valuations and bidding amounts would have been low, thereby not achieving the desired goal.

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Cities

RJD calls for Bihar ‘Bandh’ against farm Bills on Friday

Tejashwi himself uploaded a photograph on social media posing as a protester while driving a tractor on Thursday evening.

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Tejashwi Yadav

Patna, Sep 24 : Raising strong objections against the farm Bills, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has called for a Bihar ‘Bandh’ on Friday.

Party leader Tejashwi Yadav has asked supporters to hit the roads in each of the 38 districts headquarters of Bihar and register strong protests against the Bills.

“The farmers of Bihar are already distraught. The agri Bills will make them completely helpless. These Bills will allow industrialists to take over the agriculture sector,” he said.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he also said that if RJD supremo Lalu Yadav would shake hands with the BJP, he would be seen as “Raja Harishchandra” and the fodder scam or “Chara Ghotala” would be converted into “Bhaichaara” or brotherhood.

In Patna, supporters have been asked to assemble at the party office on Veerchand Patel Path followed by march towards Income Tax roundabout, Dak Banglow Chowk and return to the party office.

Party insiders believe it is a show of strength by the RJD.

Tejashwi himself uploaded a photograph on social media posing as a protester while driving a tractor on Thursday evening.

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India

Mira Nair, Chomsky Among Over 200 Signatories Demanding Umar Khalid’s Release

Umar Khalid has been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February this year.

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Umar Khalid

New Delhi: More than 200 educationists, filmmakers and authors, including Noam Chomsky and Mira Nair, issued a joint statement on Wednesday demanding the Centre free Umar Khalid arrested in connection with the northeast Delhi riots.

Besides Chomsky and Nair, the signatories include actor Ratna Pathak Shah, authors Amitav Ghosh, Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, and journalist P Sainath.

“We call on the Government of India to free Umar Khalid and all those falsely implicated and unjustly incarcerated for protesting against the CAA-NRC that denies equal citizenship rights and to ensure that the Delhi Police investigates the Delhi riots with impartiality under the oath they took as public servants bound by the Constitution of India,” the statement read.

Khalid has been arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February this year.

“We stand in solidarity and outrage, with the brave young scholar and activist Umar Khalid, arrested in New Delhi on September 14, 2020, under fabricated charges of engineering the Delhi riots in February 2020,” the statement said.

The statement said that Khalid “used the passion of his commitment to his country, marshalled his education and his voice to join the movement for equal citizenship, against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)” which introduced religion as a criterion for citizenship, and has no place in a secular nation.

The Delhi Police had on September 13 said it is investigating the role of all individuals who took part in the February riots and were behind the larger conspiracy of organising violence and inciting communal passion amongst communities.

Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava had last week said the force has collected documentary evidence, including scientific evidence, to support its case in connection with the riots.

He said that the police have so far arrested 1,571 people irrespective of their caste or religion and they are almost equally distributed among both communities.

Responding to former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro’s letter in which he had questioned the Delhi police’s investigation, Srivastava had said that there are several entities who have their reasons to weave a “web of deception” and push a “false narrative of bias and insensitivity” on the part of the police.

He said that police investigations in criminal cases are guided by facts and evidence, not by reputations and personalities.

“Delhi Police are serving the oath and the Constitution with conviction, integrity and sensitivity, without fear of any self-proclaimed “true patriots” or favour towards any class, creed or community,” Srivastava had said in an email reply to Ribeiro.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between those supporting the citizenship law and those opposing it spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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