1988 road rage case: Navjot Singh Sidhu seeks time in SC to surrender


Photo:ANI

New Delhi: Stating that he wanted to "organise his medical affairs", Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday approached the Supreme Court seeking a few weeks' time to surrender and undergo the one-year rigorous imprisonment imposed on him in a 1988 road rage case.

The apex court had on Thursday imposed a sentence of one-year rigorous imprisonment on Sidhu in the case, saying any "undue sympathy" to impose an inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Sidhu, mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar and said, "He will, of course, surrender shortly."

"We want a few weeks to surrender. It is after 34 years. He wants to organise his medical affairs," Singhvi added.

The bench, also comprising Justice J B Pardiwala, told Singhvi that the judgment in the matter was passed by a special bench.

"You can file that application and mention it before the Chief Justice. If the Chief Justice constitutes that bench today, we will consider that. If that bench is not available, it will have to be constituted. A special bench was constituted for that matter," the bench observed.

The top court said a formal application has to be placed before the appropriate bench.

Singhvi said he will try and mention the matter before the Chief Justice.

Though the apex court had in May 2018 held Sidhu guilty of the offence of "voluntarily causing hurt" to a 65-year-old man, it spared him a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.

In its judgment delivered on Thursday, the top court had observed that in the given circumstances, tempers may have been lost but then the consequences of the loss of temper must be borne.

The apex court, while allowing the review plea filed by the complainant over the sentence, had said it is a case where some "germane facts for sentencing" appear to have been lost sight of while imposing only a fine on Sidhu.

Noting that the "hand can also be a weapon by itself" where a boxer, wrestler, cricketer, or an extremely physically fit person inflicts a blow, the bench had said it did believe that indulgence was not required to be shown at the stage of sentence by only imposing fine and letting Sidhu go without any imposition of sentence.

"The result of the aforesaid is that the review applications/petitions are allowed to the aforesaid extent and in addition to the fine imposed we consider it appropriate to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of one-year rigorous imprisonment to be undergone by respondent no.1 (Sidhu)," the apex court had said.

It had noted in the judgment that the top court, to some extent, had been indulgent in ultimately holding him guilty of the offence of simple hurt under section 323 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the question is whether even on sentence, the mere passage of time can result in a fine of Rs 1,000 being an adequate sentence where a person has lost his life by reason of the severity of blow inflicted by Sidhu, who was 25-year-old at that time, with his hands.

Section 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC entails a maximum jail term of up to one year or with a fine which may extend to Rs 1,000 or both.

In September 2018, the apex court had agreed to examine the review petition filed by the family members of the deceased and had issued the notice, restricted to the quantum of sentence.

The apex court had on May 15, 2018, set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order convicting Sidhu 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.

The top court had also absolved Sidhu's aide Rupinder Singh Sandhu of all charges saying there was no trustworthy evidence regarding his presence along with Sidhu at the time of the offence in December 1988.

The May 2018 verdict had come on the appeal filed by Sidhu and Sandhu challenging the high court's 2006 judgement convicting them.

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. Sidhu was acquitted of murder charges by the trial court in September 1999.

However, the high court reversed the verdict and held Sidhu and 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 1 lakh each on them.

PTI

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