Supreme Court Orders One-Year Jail Term to Navjot Singh Sidhu

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi welcomes Navjot Singh Sidhu into the Indian National Congress. Photo: Congress (file photo)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi welcomes Navjot Singh Sidhu into the Indian National Congress. Photo: Congress (file photo)

By RMN News Service

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu will spend one year in jail in a 34-year-old road rage case in which a man had died with a blow from Sidhu. Although Sidhu was acquitted by a lower court, the Supreme Court today (May 19) ordered Sidhu to surrender before a court to serve one-year “rigorous imprisonment”. 

A person sentenced to rigorous imprisonment has to perform hard labour in the prison as opposed to simple imprisonment that expects the jailed person to do simple tasks.

It is alleged that on December 27, 1988, Sidhu and his associate, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, had an altercation with a Patiala resident Gurnam Singh over a parking space. Sidhu had allegedly dragged Gurnam Singh out of his car and hit him. Gurnam Singh later died.

The cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, who was defeated in the recently held Punjab Assembly election, was handed down the sentence by the Supreme Court, which was hearing a petition by the family of the man who died after a brawl with Sidhu and his associate in 1988.

Although he has the option to challenge the court order, Sidhu said in a tweet, “Will submit to the majesty of law.”

The victim’s family had asked for a severe punishment for Sidhu and a review of the Supreme Court order of 2018 that had acquitted him. Earlier, in 1999, a Sessions Court in Patiala had acquitted Sidhu and his associate citing lack of evidence and giving the benefit of the doubt.

In 2006, in response to a petition, the Punjab and Haryana High court had convicted Sidhu of culpable homicide and sentenced him to three years in jail. Sidhu challenged the high court order in the Supreme Court in 2018 with the plea that there was no evidence that the man had died with a single blow by Sidhu.

But the Supreme Court held Sidhu guilty of causing hurt to a 65-year-old man and ordered him to pay just a fine of Rs. 1,000 without serving the jail term. The Supreme Court had also acquitted Sidhu’s associate Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges for lack of evidence of his presence at the scene of quarrel.

But the victim’s family was not satisfied and petitioned the Supreme Court to review its earlier order and pronounce a tougher punishment for Sidhu. It is expected that Sidhu will serve his sentence in Patiala jail.

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Rakesh Raman