After the Supreme Court imposed a one-year jail term on cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in a 1988 road rage case on Thursday, the family of the victim, Gurnam Singh, thanked the Almighty. Asked about her reaction on the verdict, Gurnam Singh’s daughter-in-law Parveen Kaur said, “We thank Baba Ji (Almighty). We had left it to Baba ji. Whatever Baba Ji has done is right.” She refused to speak more on the matter.
The family resides at Ghalori village, five km from Patiala city. In his reaction, Gurnam Singh’s grandson Sabby Singh just said, “We thank God.” A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and S K Kaul allowed the review plea filed by the victim’s family on the issue of the sentence awarded to Sidhu.
Though the apex court had in May 2018 held Sidhu guilty of the offence of “voluntarily causing hurt” to a 65-year-old Gurnam Singh in the case, it spared him a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000. “…we feel there is an error apparent on the face of record .therefore, we have allowed the review application on the issue of sentence. In addition to the fine imposed, we consider it appropriate to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of one year…,” the bench said while pronouncing the verdict.
In September 2018, the apex court had agreed to examine a review petition filed by the family members of the deceased and had issued the notice, restricted to the quantum of sentence. 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.
However, the high court reversed the verdict and held Sidhu and Sandhu guilty under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC in December 2006. It had sentenced them to three years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on them. The top court had also acquitted Sandhu of all charges.