The Supreme Court on Thursday enhanced the sentence of Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to one year rigorous imprisonment in a 1988 road rage accident in which one person had died.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul allowed the review petition filed by the family of victim Gurnam Singh against its 2018 verdict that had reduced sentence of Sidhu to Rs 1,000 from 3 years imprisonment in the case.
“We have allowed review application on the issue of sentence. In addition of fine imposed, we impose a sentence of imprisonment one one year to be undergone by respondent 1 (Sidhu),” Live Law quoted Justice Kaul as saying in the operative part of the judgment.
In February this year, the top court had asked Sidhu to respond to a petition, which contends that the already established facts in the 1988 road rage death case – in which he was held guilty of only voluntarily causing hurt to a senior citizen – reveal a more serious offence that necessitates a harsher sentence.
The petition — filed by he victim’s family — sought review of the top court’s May 15, 2018 order by which it set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting Sidhu of culpable homicide and sentencing him to three-year jail term. It held him guilty of the offence under Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC and let him off only with a fine of Rs 1,000.
Though the top court had held Sidhu guilty of the offence of “voluntarily causing hurt” to a 65-year-old man, it spared him of a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000. The top court had also acquitted 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.
Later in September 2018, the apex court had agreed to examine a review petition filed by the family members of the deceased and issued notice to Sidhu on it.
The apex court’s May 2018 verdict had come on the appeal filed by Sidhu and Sandhu challenging the high court’s 2006 judgment convicting them.
According to the prosecution, Sidhu and 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, 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 the murder charges by the trial court in September 1999.
However, the high court had 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 one lakh each on them.
The apex court while allowing the appeals of Sidhu and Sandhu had said the medical evidence was “absolutely uncertain” regarding the cause of death of victim Gurnam Singh.
In 2007, the apex court had stayed the conviction of Sidhu and Sandhu in the case.