The Supreme Court Wednesday agreed to re-examine the sentence awarded by it to Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Sidhu in the 1988 road rage case in which a person had died. The court was hearing a review petition filed by the family members of deceased Gurnam Singh.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul agreed to examine the review petition and issued notice to Sidhu in the case. “Issue notice restricted to quantum of sentence qua respondent no. 1 – Navjot Singh Sidhu,” the bench said in an order.
The top court had on May 15 set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting Sidhu of culpable homicide and awarding him three-year jail term, but held him guilty of minor offence of causing hurt to a senior citizen and spared him of jail term. The court had also imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on Sidhu for the offence under section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC. Sidhu’s aide co-accused Rupinder Singh Sandhu was acquitted of all charged by the apex court as well.
Sidhu was earlier acquitted by a trial court in September 1999. However, the acquittal was reversed in 2006 by the high court which held the two guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Sidhu and Sandhu challenged the high court’s order in the Supreme Court which stayed the conviction pending the appeal in 2007.
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 (Gurnam) 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. Gurnam later died of head injury, allegedly caused by Sidhu.