NEW DELHI: In a major relief to Sanjeev Nanda, prime accused in the BMW case of 1999, the Delhi High Court converted his offence from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to a simple case of causing death by rash or negligent act and reduced his sentence from five years to two years.
Sanjeev Nanda is the son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda and grandson of former Navy Chief Admiral S. M. Nanda. The Court gave the relief in a judgment on an appeal by Nanda against his conviction by the trial court.
The Delhi police had charged-sheeted him under Section 304 Part-II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, and the trial court had upheld it last year, sentencing him to five years’ rigorous imprisonment. With the reduction of his sentence he is likely to come out of Delhi’s Tihar Central Jail in about two months from now as he has already undergone more than 20 months of the sentence. The police had charged him with running his BMW car over six persons, including three policemen, on Lodhi Road here in the early morning of January 10, 1999.
The investigating agency had charge-sheeted him for culpable homicide not amounting to murder alleging that he was drunk and driving well beyond the stipulated speed limit. The trial court had upheld the charge. The High Court rejected the trial court’s reasoning for accepting the police case and reduced his offence as well as the period of sentence.
“Now taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances — evidence of the two hostile witnesses, court witness and the circumstantial evidence — I do not find myself in agreement with the finding of the learned trial court that the offence committed by the appellant attracts Section 304 part II and not Section 304-A of the Code”, the Court said in the 274-page verdict.
“No doubt….the appellant caused the accident in which six persons died and one was injured but it was not a case where the appellant had any knowledge of the presence of those persons on the road and therefore no parallel can be drawn between the circumstances of this case and the observations of the Supreme Court that if a person wilfully drives into a crowd then the case cannot be taken to be one under Section 304-A of the Code”, the Court said.