New Delhi: There has been some relief for Sanjeev Nanda, convicted in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case. The Supreme Court has ruled that Sanjeev Nanda will not have to undergo any more jail sentence.
The apex court has partially upheld the Delhi Police's appeal to enhance Nanda's punishment and ordered his conviction on the higher charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Nanda has to pay Rs 50 lakh to the Union Government as compensation for the victims of the hit-and-run case. Nanda will also have to do two years of community service.
The apex court had reserved its verdict on a plea against the Delhi High Court order, which had reduced Sanjeev Nanda's sentence from five years to two years.
Sanjeev Nanda, a businessman and the son of Suresh Nanda, an Indian arms dealer, was convicted for running over six people in 1999. Nanda was in an inebriated state when he killed six people including three policemen.
A bench of justices Deepak Verma and KS Radhakrishnan partially set aside the Delhi High Court's order convicting Nanda under lenient provision of 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for rash and negligent driving, but upheld the two year jail term that was awarded to him.
The apex court, however, convicted him under the stringent provision of 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC, which prescribes maximum punishment of 10 years.
Flaying Nanda for running away after mowing down six people with his car on January 10, 1999, the bench said his conduct is "highly reprehensible".
The apex court directed Nanda to perform community service for two years and also asked him to pay Rs 50 lakh to the Centre which will be used for compensating victims of road accidents in which erring drivers could not be traced.
The apex court passed the order on an appeal filed by the Delhi Police challenging the high court's order reducing the jail term to two years from the five years awarded by the trial court.
In separate judgements written by the judges, Justice Radhakrishnan was more critical of Nanda's conduct in the 13-year-old incident.
He said Nanda was driving the vehicle and he didn't stop after mowing down six people.
"Some mercy could have been shown to the victims," Justice Radhakrishnan said while pointing out that Nanda fled away from the spot leaving the victims to die.
Justice Radhakrishnan also made it clear that payment of compensation to victims' families by Nanda and his age of 21 years at the time of incident are not mitigating factors while deciding the case against him.
He also said that the high court was wrong in convicting Nanda under lenient provision of IPC and said that it would send a wrong message to the public.
The apex court had on August 1 acquitted the three persons sentenced to varying jail terms for tampering with evidence in the case.
The Delhi High Court had in July 2009 reduced Nanda's sentence from five to two years after holding that he could not have had the knowledge that a tragedy could strike by his rash and negligent driving.
The high court had modified the trial court's order by holding him guilty under Section 304-A (causing death due to rash and negligent act) and acquitting him of Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
It had also reduced by half the quantum of sentence given to three co-accused - businessman Rajeev Gupta and his two employees Bhola Nath and Shyam Singh who were convicted for destruction of evidence in the case.
Gupta was sentenced to six months prison term, as against the one year awarded by the trial court, while his two employees were awarded three months jail term from their six months sentence.
(With additional information from PTI)