Navjot Singh Sidhu sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment in a 34-year-old case

Published : May 19, 2022 20:13 IST

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu outside his residence after the Supreme Court's verdict, in Patial on May 19.

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu outside his residence after the Supreme Court's verdict, in Patial on May 19.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, former attacking batsman, controversial politician, and television talk-show host, has been sentenced to a one-year rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court in an over three-decade-old road rage case in which a senior citizen had died.

On May 19, a bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and S.K. Kaul, reviewing its own 2018 verdict, said: “We feel there is an error apparent on the face of record.… therefore, we have allowed the review application on the issue of sentence. In addition to the fine imposed, we consider it appropriate to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of one year.”

The court, however, rejected the plea for imposing a culpable homicide not amounting to murder charge under Section 304A of IPC against Sidhu.

Sidhu, who, as president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, recently led the Congress to a spectacular defeat at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party, had pleaded with the court not to reconsider its 2018 decision in the case, stating that he had had an impeccable career and that there was “no conclusive evidence to show that the single fist blow led to the death of a 65-year-old man”.

As per the first information report (FIR) filed on December 27, 1988, Sidhu and his associate Rupinder Singh Sandhu got into an argument with Gurnam Singh, a fellow Patiala resident. Sidhu and Sandhu allegedly dragged Gurnam Singh out of his car and assaulted him. Gurnam Singh later died in a hospital.

In 1999, a Sessions court in Patiala acquitted Sidhu and his associate, citing a lack of evidence and giving them the benefit of the doubt. But the family of Gurnam Singh challenged the Session Court’s verdict and petitioned the Punjab and Haryana High court. In 2006, the High Court convicted Sidhu of culpable homicide and sentenced him to three years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs.1 lakh on them.

Sidhu had then approached the Supreme Court, filing an appeal challenging the High Court’s order.

In 2018, the Supreme Court had convicted Sidhu for the offence of “voluntarily causing hurt”, but had acquitted him in connection with the culpable homicide charges. The court had also spared him a jail term then, imposing only a fine of Rs.1,000. The court had also acquitted Sidhu’s associate Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges stating that there was no proper evidence that he was present at the spot.

But the family of Gurnam Singh had then requested the Supreme Court to review its order and consider tougher charges and stricter punishment for Sidhu including culpable homicide, or even murder, rather than just causing hurt.

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