Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday surrendered before a court in Patiala to the one-year rigorous imprisonment imposed on him by the Supreme Court in a 1988 road rage case. Sidhu had, earlier in the day, approached the apex court seeking a few weeks’ time to “organise his medical affairs”.
Sidhu was taken for medical examination after the surrender and will be lodged in Patiala jail. Surinder Dalla, media advisor to Sidhu, said, “He (Navjot Singh Sidhu) has surrendered himself before Chief Judicial Magistrate. He is under judicial custody. Medical examination and other legal procedures will be adopted.”
The apex court had on Thursday imposed a sentence of one-year rigorous imprisonment on Sidhu in the case of the road rage incident in which a 65-year-old man, Gurnam Singh, had died. According to the prosecution, Sidhu and his aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu were in a Gypsy parked in the middle of a road near the Sheranwala Gate Crossing in Patiala on December 27, 1988, when the victim and two others were on their way to the bank to withdraw money.
When they reached the crossing, it was alleged, that Gurnam Singh, driving a Maruti car, found the Gypsy in the middle of the road and asked the occupants, Sidhu and Sandhu, to remove it. This led to heated exchanges. Sidhu was acquitted of murder charges by a trial court in September 1999.
The apex court in its verdict 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.
The Supreme Court had in May 2018 held Sidhu guilty of the offence of “voluntarily causing hurt” to a 65-year-old man, it spared him a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000. The court had then set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting Sidhu of culpable homicide and awarding him a three-year jail term in the case.
The top court had also absolved Sidhu’s aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges saying there was no trustworthy evidence regarding his presence along with Sidhu at the time of the offence in December 1988.
Sidhu’s lawyer, senior advocate A M Singhvi, had sought a few weeks to surrender before a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar. Stating “He will, of course, surrender shortly,” Singhvi said, “We want a few weeks to surrender. It is after 34 years. He wants to organise his medical affairs.”
A few Congress leaders and supporters including Patiala District Congress Committee president Narinder Pal Lali on Friday morning turned up at the residence of the party’s former Punjab unit chief. Some party leaders including Navtej Singh Cheema accompanied him from his home to the district court, located close to the former Punjab Congress president’s residence.
After the SC verdict, Sidhu, 58, had taken to Twitter to say he “will submit to the majesty of the law” as the cricketer-turned-politician rode an elephant in Patiala earlier in the day to register a symbolic protest against rising prices of essential commodities.
(With PTI inputs)