Navjot Singh Sindhu Surrenders Before Patiala Court After SC Gives Him One-Year Sentence

The top court reversed its 2018 decision in a 34-year-old road rage case that had spared him a three-year jail term and had disposed of the case with just Rs 1,000 fine.

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Chandigarh: Soon after the Supreme Court on Thursday, May 19 sentenced him to one-year imprisonment in a 34-year-old road rage case, former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said that he “will submit to the majesty of law”.

A day later, Sidhu surrendered before Patiala court. He is undergoing a mandatory medical check up and will soon be sent to jail in the city. He was accompanied by his supporters when he came to surrender before the court around 4 pm on Friday.

In the morning, Sidhu’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi pleaded before Supreme Court to seek a few weeks for Sidhu to surrender on medical grounds. The court asked him to make a formal appeal before Chief Justice N.V. Ramana for setting up a special bench to hear his plea. However, the CJI refused to entertain an attempt by Sidhu’s lawyer to mention the case for an urgent sitting of the special bench.

Failing to get relief, Sidhu finally arrived at Patiala court and formally surrendered.

The apex court’s verdict has come as a huge setback for Sidhu’s nearly two-decade old political career, which was already in the doldrums ever since he could not retain the Amritsar East assembly seat in the 2022 Punjab assembly polls.

Since the top court’s verdict came on a review petition, the Congress leader has no chance to appeal against the order.

The case

On December 27, 1988, Sidhu got into an argument with Gurnam Singh, at the Batiawala Chowk traffic light point at 12:30 pm, on the right of way, in Punjab’s Patiala city.

According to the first information report (FIR) lodged in Kotwali police station, Sidhu, after the verbal spat, pulled out Gurnam Singh from his vehicle and inflicted fist blows on his head. He also took away Gurnam Singh’s car keys before fleeing away from the spot.

Gurnam Singh’s family member took him to a hospital in a rickshaw, and upon reaching there, the doctors pronounced him dead.

The Supreme Court in September 2018 had set aside the Punjab and Haryana court’s order convicting him of culpable homicide and awarding him a three-year jail term. The apex court had disposed of the case with just Rs 1,000 fine.

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On the review petition filed by the victim’s family, the top court reversed its 2018 decision and “found it appropriate” to impose one-year rigorous imprisonment.

In its 24-page order, the bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul argued that Sidhu, who was an international cricketer, was well aware of the force of a blow that even his hand would carry. Therefore, the court said that he cannot say that he did not know the effect of the blow or plead ignorance on this aspect.

Sidhu has so far spent just one day in jail in this case, after the Punjab and Haryana high court in its judgment on December 1, 2006 sent him to three-year imprisonment. On January 11, 2007, he surrendered before the Chandigarh court that sent him to jail in Patiala on the same day. However, he was out of jail on January 13 after the apex court granted him bail.

Congress leaders in Punjab reacted sharply to the Supreme Court’s decision. Former Punjab home minister and senior Congress leader Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa called it “good riddance”. In his interview to ANI, Randhawa said what Congress could no do, the Supreme Court has done. He said the loss Sidhu has caused to the party, no one can repair.

Randhawa said Sidhu’s statements before the recent Punjab elections were a major reason for the party’s defeat. He further said that when Rahul Gandhi had come to Gurdaspur six days before voting for the Punjab elections on February 14, he had asked Gandhi to expel Sidhu. “This perhaps could increase the Congress’s tally by three four seats,” he added.

Taking a dig at Sidhu, another senior Congress leader, Rana Gurjit Singh, said that one must fear God before speaking ill against others. The Patiala family waited 34 years for justice which they finally got now, he added.