Even as the Supreme Court Tuesday issued a notice to Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on a petition seeking review of its earlier judgment giving him relief in a 1988 road rage case in which one person had died, the cricketer-turned-politician said he was unaware of the development.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and S K Kaul, which issued the notice, however, said it would be “restricted to quantum of sentence” to Sidhu.
What this means is that the court is unlikely to disturb its May 15 decision to set aside his conviction for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and holding him guilty of voluntarily causing hurt. The court had let Sidhu off with a fine of Rs 1,000.
Sidhu and co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu were acquitted by the trial court in September 1999. However, the High Court, in December 2006, held them guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sent them to three years in jail. The duo challenged this in the Supreme Court, which stayed the conviction pending the appeal in 2007.
The incident dates back to December 27, 1988, when, according to the prosecution, the duo, who were driving a Gypsy, had an altercation with one Gurnam Singh, a Patiala resident, when the latter asked them to give way to their car. Police claimed Gurnam was beaten up by Sidhu, who later fled the crime scene. Gurnam was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.
The Supreme Court held Sidhu guilty for voluntarily causing hurt to Gurnam Singh and fined him Rs 1,000 under Section 323 of the Indian Penal Code, which stipulates imprisonment which may extend to one year or fine which may extend to Rs 1000 or both. The apex court took into account the fact that the incident was 30 years old, there was no enmity between the accused and deceased, no weapon was used by the accused and the background in which it happened and concluded that the fine “would meet the ends of justice in this case”.
Meanwhile, Gurnam’s family members said Wednesday they had filed the review plea in the SC because “justice was denied to them”.
“My grandfather was killed by Sidhu. And he was just fined for Rs 1,000? Is it justice? We have now sought a review of the quantum of punishment. We hope we will get justice for my grandfather,” Aman
Suyach, grandson of Gurnam Singh, who had died in the incident, told the Indian Express Wednesday evening.
“The Suyach family wants Sidhu jailed. We have prayed for a maximum punishment. After all, he killed a man?”
Suyach said his father Narvedinder Singh Suyach had struggled for 30 years to get justice for his deceased father. “But Sidhu was let off. The punishment was not commensurate with his crime. We had lost our family member.”
When reached for comment, Sidhu said he was not aware about the review petition.
Incidentally, Suyach family of Ghalori village near Patiala is related to Gurpreet Singh Kangar, a Cabinet colleague of Sidhu.