The Supreme Court sentenced former Punjab Congress chairman and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu to one year in prison on Thursday in a 1988 road rage case in which he was previously let off with a Rs 1,000 fine.
On a review plea filed by the kin of Gurnam Singh, the dead, against th
e 2018 judgement, a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul increased Sidhu’s sentence.
The top court, however, dismissed the victim’s attorney, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra’s, request that Sidhu be charged with cuplable homicide not amounting to murder.
During the arguments, Sidhu, who was represented by senior lawyer A M Singhvi, stated that the sentencing was a matter for the court’s discretion and that no interference could be done except in cases of death penalty related to ‘the rarest of the rare’.
Singhvi stated that it was exceedingly unlikely that an injury induced by a fist blow could have resulted in the victim’s death.
Senior counsel Luthra, who represented the victim, argued that a blow was delivered to the victim and that the death was not caused by cardiac arrest.
On May 15, 2018, the Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice J Chelameswar (now retired), reduced Sidhu’s sentence to Rs 1,000.
The court subsequently convicted Sidhu of the less serious charge of causing voluntarily harm under Section 323 of the IPC.
The maximum penalty for the offence was a year in prison, a fine of up to Rs 1,000, or both.
The court then examined the precise facts to reach its determination, including the fact that the event occurred more than 30 years ago, that there was no prior animosity between the accused and 65-year-old Gurnam Singh, and that no weapon was used by Sidhu.
The court subsequently refused to hear a petition filed on behalf of complainant Jaswinder Singh, who was in the car with the deceased on that fateful December 27, 1988, in Patiala, claiming the state went out of its way to protect the accused because of his famous status.