Weeks ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, the Supreme Court is scheduled to re-examine on Thursday the sentence awarded by it to cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in an over 32-year-old road rage case.
Mr Sidhu is presently the Punjab Congress President and voting in the state assembly election is scheduled for February 20.
The Supreme Court had on May 15, 2018, set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting him of culpable homicide and awarding him a three-year jail term in the case, but had held him guilty of causing hurt to a senior citizen.
Though the top court had held Mr 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.
Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code entails a maximum jail term of up to one year or with a fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.
It had also acquitted Mr Sidhu’s aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges saying there was no trustworthy evidence regarding his presence along with Mr Sidhu at the time of the offence in December 1988.
Later in September 2018, the Supreme Court had agreed to examine a review petition filed by the family members of the dead person and issued notice to Mr Sidhu on it.
“Issue notice restricted to quantum of sentence qua respondent no. 1 – Navjot Singh Sidhu,” the court had said in its September 11, 2018 order.
A special bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul would consider the review petition on Thursday.
The Supreme Court’s May 2018 verdict had come on the appeal filed by Mr Sidhu and Mr Sandhu challenging the high court’s 2006 judgment convicting them.
According to the prosecution, Mr Sidhu and Mr 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, Mr Sidhu and Mr Sandhu, to remove it. This led to heated exchanges.
Mr Sidhu was acquitted of the murder charges by the trial court in September 1999.
However, the high court had reversed the verdict and held Mr Sidhu and Mr 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 Supreme Court while allowing the appeals of Mr Sidhu and Mr Sandhu had said the medical evidence was “absolutely uncertain” regarding the cause of death of victim Gurnam Singh.
In 2007, the Supreme Court had stayed the conviction of Mr Sidhu and Mr Sandhu in the case.