Supreme Court Sentences Navjot Singh Sidhu To 1-Year “Rigourous Imprisonment” In 1988 case

Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Congress leader, surrendered in a Punjab court today, a day after the Supreme Court sentenced him to a year in prison for a road rage incident in which a man was killed 34 years ago. On health reasons, he had asked a couple more weeks to surrender.

Justice AM Khanwilkar instructed lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented Navjot Sidhu before the Supreme Court, to contact Chief Justice of India NV Ramana. However, Mr Sidhu’s team stated that the “matter could not be mentioned before the Chief Justice.”

Mr Sidhu had yesterday tweeted after the order that he would “submit to the majesty of law”.

The cricketer-turned-politician, who recently resigned as Punjab Congress president after his party’s loss in the state election, has been sentenced to one year of “rigorous imprisonment” by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Opposing Mr Sidhu’s request for time, the counsel representing Punjab said: “34 years does not mean the crime dies. Now the judgment is pronounced, they want three-four weeks again.”

Mr Singhvi replied: “I am saying I will surrender. It’s your discretion to consider.”

Justice Khanwilkar said: “Place a formal application and we will see. File this and mention it before the Chief Justice’s court, then we will see.”

The Supreme Court ruled on a petition filed by the family of a man who died in 1988 after a brawl with Mr. Sidhu and his friend. The family had requested a tougher punishment and a reconsideration of a Supreme Court judgement acquitting him of murder in 2018.

Mr. Sidhu got into an altercation with Gurnam Singh, a Patiala resident, over a parking spot on December 27, 1988. Mr. Sidhu and a friend, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, are accused of dragging Gurnam Singh from his car and hitting him. He died later in the hospital.

An eyewitness claimed Mr. Sidhu killed Gurnam Singh with a hit to the head.

Mr. Sidhu was fined 1,000 rupees by the Supreme Court in 2018 for intentionally injuring someone.

However, the court concluded it was “appropriate” to imprison Mr. Sidhu after revisiting its own order, stating that “some aggravated culpability” must be attached if a person dies.

“In addition to the fine imposed, we consider it appropriate to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of one year rigorous imprisonment,” the Supreme Court said.

A local court acquitted Mr. Sidhu in 1999 due to a lack of evidence, but the High Court found him guilty of culpable homicide in 2006 and sentenced him to three years in prison.

Mr. Sidhu had filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which lowered his sentence and dropped the case after ordering him to pay a fine, citing the fact that the incident occurred 30 years ago and Mr. Sidhu had not used a weapon.

However, the victim’s family has requested that the 2018 ruling be reviewed.

“A disproportionately light punishment humiliates and frustrates a victim of crime when the offender goes unpunished,” the Supreme Court said.