There is finally relief for former India cricket opener turned politician and Punjab Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. After 30 years Sidhu has been acquitted under section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder} and convicted under section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) in 1988 road rage case by the Supreme Court.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced the verdict on a cross-appeal filed by the victim’s family seeking enhancement of the jail term to them. “A1 (Sidhu) is guilty of Section 323 of IPC. Awarded no sentence but fine of Rs 1,000 for the offence. A2 (Rupinder Singh Sandhu) is acquitted,” the bench said.
The two accused in the case are Sidhu, who quit the BJP and joined Congress before the previous Punjab assembly elections and is currently the Tourism Minister of Punjab, and Rupinder Singh Sandhu – who was also convicted and sentenced to three years in jail.
On December 27, 1988, the duo, who were in a Gypsy, got into an argument with Gurnam Singh over parking space in Patiala. Sidhu and Sandhu had allegedly dragged Gurnam out of his car and dealt him a series of blows, causing Gurnam’s death. When Jaswinder Singh, who was with Gurnam, tried to intervene, Sandhu had also assaulted him.
A beaming and relieved Sidhu according to various media reports said, “I received messages from Congress president Rahul Gandhi and chief minister Amarinder Singh. Besides, Priyanka Gandhi too conveyed her wishes. I was overwhelmed. I replied to Rahul, saying that I am now at the disposal of the party 24×7.”
Minutes after the judgment around 11.10am, Sidhu received a text message from Rahul, which was followed by calls from Amarinder and Priyanka. Sidhu went to meet his lawyer R S Cheema before leaving for Delhi. He said he would meet Rahul and Priyanka and thank them for their support. “I will tell him that my life is now devoted to Punjab, so that the state could regain its lost glory,” he said, adding that he would now work for the welfare of Punjab with renewed vigour.