New Delhi, Aug. 3: The Supreme Court today disagreed with Delhi High Court’s order to convict BMW hit-and-run case accused Sanjeev Nanda under a more lenient section of the IPC which carries only a two-year jail term.
The apex court, however, agreed with the high court ruling to reduce his jail term to two years from five.
The top court convicted Nanda under Section 304 Part II of the IPC, which carries a 10-year jail term. It said the high court should not have charged him under the lenient Section 304A as it would send a wrong signal to others.
But the court allowed 34-year-old Nanda, who has served the two-year term, to walk free. Nanda, grandson of former naval chief S.M. Nanda, was asked by Justices Deepak Verma and K.S. Radhakrishnan to pay Rs 50 lakh to the Centre to create a fund for hit-and-run victims.
He was also asked to undertake community service for two years failing which he would have to spend another year in jail. The ministry of social justice will decide on the community service.
Nanda, then 21, had mowed down six persons with his BMW in 1999. He was allegedly drunk and fled the scene.
Justice Radhakrishnan, critical of Nanda’s conduct of not helping the victims, said: “Some mercy could have been shown to the victims.” He dubbed Nanda’s conduct “highly reprehensible”.
Just days ago, the top court had acquitted three others, businessman Rajeev Gupta and Nanda’s employees Bhola Nath and Shyam Singh, for destroying evidence in the case.
The top court’s decision brings to an end a trial marked by intrigue and allegations of tampering with the judicial system.
The first turn in the case came when Nanda’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani claimed it was a truck that was involved in the accident. He then embellished the story by claiming someone else was at the wheels that night. A trial court then acquitted Nanda.
Another turn came when Nanda’s senior counsel R.K. Anand was caught in a media sting operation hobnobbing with the public prosecutor in the case, sparking allegations that the case had been fixed.
A public uproar saw Anand being disbarred from practising. It also forced the high court to order a retrial. The trial court sentenced Nanda to five years on September 2, 2008. But this was slashed to two years by the high court.
Nanda spent three months less than two years in jail for good behaviour.