New Delhi: In a big relief to Sanjeev Nanda, convicted in 1999 BMW hit-and-run case, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Delhi High Court order reducing the prison sentence of Nanda from five years to two years.

Upholding his conviction, the Apex Court imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakh on Nanda and said that the money would be utilised for payment of compensation to highway hit-and-run accident victims. The SC further said that if Nanda failed to pay the fine, he would undergo a sentence of one more year.

Notably, Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of late naval chief Admiral SM Nanda, has already served the two year jail term and hence he need not return to the jail after the SC verdict.

A bench of justices Deepak Verma and K S 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.

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.

On January 10, 1999, Nanda crushed six persons to death while driving his BMW car in an inebriated condition in South Delhi and fled away from the spot.

Mala Dixit/JPN/Agencies

Latest News from India News Desk