Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has been sentenced to one year in jail in a 34-year-old road rage case, in a massive setback to the cricketer-politician months after an election defeat. The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the plea by Gurnam Singh's family to convict Sidhu for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, under Section 304A of IPC, on Sidhu. However, the court imposed the maximum punishment under Section 323. The Congress leader was earlier let off with a fine of Rs 1,000 by the top court. The scope of punishment was enhanced by the Supreme Court while hearing a petition filed by the victim's family.
The case relates to the death of a man, Patiala resident Gurnam Singh, in December 1988 after Sidhu and a friend assaulted him in a road rage incident. On December 27, 1988, Sidhu and Rupinder Singh Sandhu allegedly parked their Gypsy in the middle of the road near the Sheranwala Gate crossing in Patiala. When the 65-year-old Gurnam Singh reached the spot in a car, he asked them to move aside. Sidhu then beat up Singh. He also allegedly removed Singh's car keys before fleeing so he couldn't get medical help.In September 1999, Sidhu was acquitted of murder, but in December 2006, the Punjab and Haryana HC held them both guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. It also imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on both. Sidhu and Sandhu later challenged the verdict in the SC. Sidhu claimed the evidence was contradictory and medical opinion was "vague". In 2007, the court stayed their conviction.
The cricketer-turned-politician had told the top court that there was “no conclusive evidence to show that the single fist blow led to the death of a 65-year-old man”. He had also accused the victim's family of making a "malicious attempt” to get the case reopened.On September 12, 2018, the SC agreed to hear a review petition filed by Gurnam Singh's family. The case was taken up by the Supreme Court in March this year but it reserved its verdict on the review petition. On Thursday, the Supreme Court awarded Sidhu one-year rigorous imprisonment.