The Supreme Court is expected to deliver its verdict today on whether to enhance the sentence of Sanjeev Nanda, accused in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case. Mr Nanda had crushed six persons to death, including three policemen, while driving his BMW car in an inebriated condition in the wee hours of January 10, 1999 at Lodhi Colony in South Delhi.
In September 2008, a trial court had found Mr Nanda guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced him to five years in jail. But the Delhi High Court said that the prosecution failed to prove that Mr Nanda intentionally ran over seven men, six of whom had died. So, he was found guilty under Section 304-A (causing death due to rash and negligent act) and was acquitted of Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). Section 304-A has a lesser charge of two years, which is what his sentence was reduced to by the high court in July 2009.
Where the Delhi High Court did agree with the lower court was that, "Every possible effort was made to destroy evidence, win over witnesses and to influence the prosecution and police."
Most of that was caught on camera by an NDTV expose in 2008, where the lawyer for the Nandas, RK Anand, was seen offering the main witness in the case money to change his testimony.
In court, Sunil Kulkarni had originally testified that he saw Mr Nanda emerging from the driver's seat. He later said he could not be sure of that. His reversal didn't affect the trial court but as for Mr Nanda, the judge made his feelings clear by rejecting claims that he has shown exemplary behaviour by paying close to Rs 65 lakhs in compensation to the families of those who died. Sanjeev Nanda is the grandson of former Navy Chief SM Nanda and son of an arms dealer Suresh Nanda.
Following the reduction in Mr Nanda's sentence, the Delhi Police had appealed in the Supreme Court for a higher jail term of 10 years under stringent provisions of law. Mr Nanda has already served his two year sentence and is a free man now.
On Wednesday, the top court acquitted three people who were convicted by the Delhi High Court along with Mr Nanda for destruction of evidence in the case. Businessman Rajeev Gupta was sentenced to six months in jail while his employees Bhola Nath and Shyam Singh were awarded three-month imprisonment.