The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu to a one-year jail term in a 34-year-old road rage case, in which one person named Gurnam Singh had died, NDTV reported.
The incident took place on December 27, 1988.
The prosecution alleged that Sidhu and his aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu had parked their vehicle in the middle of a road near Patiala city’s Sheranwala Gate Crossing. A man who was driving by along with his family had asked Sidhu and Sandhu to move their vehicle, leading to a heated brawl.
In September 1999, a trial court had acquitted Sidhu of all charges.
Reversing the verdict, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in December 2008, held Sidhu and Sandhu guilty of homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 (II) of the Indian Penal Code and convicted them to three years in jail.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court had set aside the order. The Supreme Court had held Sidhu guilty of voluntarily causing hurt to a senior citizen and fined him Rs 1,000, but spared him the jail term.
In September 2018, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear a review petition filed by the family of deceased man. In February, the court had asked Sidhu to file a response to the application that sought harsher charges against him.
Sidhu opposed the plea citing the earlier Supreme Court judgement which had held that there was no evidence that the victim died due to a single blow. However, a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Thursday allowed the family’s plea for stricter punishment, Live Law reported.
The court held that Sidhu must have been aware of the force of his hand, considering how he is a tall and well-built international cricketer, Live Law reported.
“The blow was not inflicted on a person identically physically placed but a 65-year-old person, more than double his age,” the court said, according to Live Law. “It is not as if someone has to remind him of the extent of the injury which could be caused by a blow inflicted by him. In the given circumstances, tempers may have been lost but then the consequences of the loss of temper must be borne.”
The judges said any undue sympathy to impose an inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law.
Accepting the court’s verdict, Sidhu on Thursday said he “will submit to the majesty of [the] law”.
On the other hand, Singh’s family said that they have received justice after 34 years, The Indian Express reported.
“Everybody has seen how we have fought for justice,” Singh’s son, Narvedinder Singh Suyach, told the newspaper. “We lost our father but justice was denied to us. Finally, it has been delivered.”