New Delhi: Congress member Navjot Singh Sidhu was on Thursday sentenced to one year in jail in a 34-year-old road rage case by the Supreme Court, in a massive setback to the cricketer-politician just months after an election defeat.
Navjot Sidhu, 58, has to surrender before a court to serve a year’s “rigorous imprisonment”. “Will submit to the majesty of law…,” tweeted the former Punjab Congress chief, who had participated in a protest this morning. Sidhu has the option of challenging the order.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition by the family of a man who died after a brawl with Sidhu and his associate in 1988.
For over three decades, the incident and its legal aftermath has dogged Sidhu, who recently quit as Punjab Congress chief after his party’s defeat in state elections.
The victim’s family had asked for graver charges against Sidhu and a review of a 2018 order of the Supreme Court exonerating him.
On December 27, 1988, Sidhu got into an argument with Gurnam Singh, a resident of Patiala, over a parking spot. Sidhu and his associate, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, allegedly dragged Gurnam Singh out of his car and hit him. He later died, NDTV reported.
In 1999, a sessions court in Patiala acquitted Sidhu and his associate citing lack of evidence and giving the benefit of the doubt.
On a petition challenging this verdict, the Punjab and Haryana High court convicted Sidhu in 2006 of culpable homicide and sentenced him to three years in jail.
In 2018, Sidhu approached the Supreme Court, which set aside the High Court order saying there was no evidence the man had died of a single blow. But it held the cricketer-politician guilty of causing hurt to a senior citizen, the report said.
While Sidhu was held guilty of voluntarily causing hurt to a 65-year-old man, he was spared a jail term and fined Rs 1,000.
The Supreme Court also acquitted Sidhu’s aide, Rupinder Sandhu of all charges, saying there was no proper evidence he was present at the spot.
The family of the victim, Gurnam Singh, requested the Supreme Court to review its order and consider tougher charges, the report added.
Sidhu had challenged the family’s review petition. The Supreme Court today ruled on the Congress leader’s petition.