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1988 road rage case: Navjot Singh Sidhu gets one-year jail term, says ‘will submit to majesty of law’

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced former Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu to one-year rigorous imprisonment in a three-decade old road rage case in which a person had died.However, a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and S K Kaul rejected the plea for imposing culpable homicide not amounting murder charge under Section 304A of IPC on Sidhu.

On December 27, 1988, Sidhu and one of his associates Rupinder Singh Sandhu had allegedly hit one Gurnam Singh on his head following an altercation. Gurnam Singh later died.

In 2018, the top court had convicted Sidhu for the offence of “voluntarily causing hurt”, but had acquitted him in connection with the culpable homicide charges. The court had then spared him a jail term and only imposed a fine of Rs 1,000. It had also acquitted Sidhu’s associate, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, in the case.“… 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 SC 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.The case has gone through session court, high court and Supreme Court. The Sessions Court Judge of Patiala had on September 22, 1999, acquitted Sidhu and his associate, due to a lack of evidence in the case and giving the benefit of the doubt.

It was then challenged by the victim’s families before the Punjab and Haryana high court, which had in 2006, convicted and sentenced Sidhu and Sandhu to three years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on them. Sidhu then filed an appeal before the apex court challenging this order.The 1988 road rage incident 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, 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. Input:TOI