Patiala, May 20
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu surrendered before a court here on Friday, a day after being sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court in a 1988 road rage death case.
“He surrendered before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Amit Malhan,” said senior advocate HPS Verma, who accompanied Sidhu to the court.
The former Punjab Congress president surrendered shortly after 4 pm, and was taken for the mandatory medical examination, conducted at the Mata Kaushalya Hospital. After the medical check-up, he was lodged in the Patiala Central Jail.
Some party leaders including Navtej Singh Cheema, Ashwani Sekhri and Sidhu’s supporters accompanied him from his home to the court, which is close to his residence.
Cheema drove Sidhu, who was dressed in a blue-coloured ‘pathani suit’, to the court in an SUV.
This came just hours after the former Punjab Congress president approached the Supreme Court seeking a few weeks to surrender to serve the imprisonment.
The top court bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and JB Pardiwala told senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for Sidhu, that the judgment on one-year rigorous imprisonment was passed by a special bench, and that he can file the application and mention it before the Chief Justice.
Singhvi said he will try and mention the matter before the Chief Justice.
Back in Patiala, some former MLAs and supporters turned up at Sidhu’s residence in the morning to show their support, but no prominent Congress leader from the state unit was seen either at his home or at the court with him.
However, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and senior leader Partap Singh Bajwa expressed their support to Sidhu on social media, with both saying in their tweets that while they respect the Supreme Court verdict, they stand by Sidhu and his family.
The cricketer-turned-politician’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu had reached their Patiala residence on Thursday night.
The SC had on Thursday sentenced Sidhu to one-year rigorous in the case, saying any undue sympathy in imposing an inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law.
A 65-year-old man, named Gurnam Singh, had died in the incident. When reporters sought Sidhu’s reaction to the verdict on Thursday, he had declined to comment. However, he had later tweeted to say he “will submit to the majesty of the law”.
Though the apex court had in May 2018 held Sidhu guilty of the offense of “voluntarily causing hurt” to the man, it had spared him a jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.
Gurnam Singh’s family had sought a review of the judgement, which was allowed by the SC.
“We feel there is an error apparent on the face of record… Therefore, we have allowed the review application on the issue of the sentence. In addition to the fine imposed, we consider it appropriate to impose a sentence of imprisonment for a period of one year,” the bench said while pronouncing the verdict.
Sidhu, a former BJP MP, had switched over to the Congress ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. For months before the 2022 assembly polls in the state, Sidhu was engaged in a tussle with Amarinder Singh, who was then the chief minister of the state as a Congress leader.
The top Congress leadership forced Amarinder Singh out after Sidhu targeted him for months over the “unfulfilled” promises by his government, and the differences between them could not be settled. Sidhu was then made the party’s state unit president.
Both Sidhu and Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, who recently quit the party and joined the BJP, appeared to have eyed the chief minister’s post but the top leadership had picked Charanjit Singh Channi to replace Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu began his political innings in 2004, contesting the Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket from Amritsar, where he shifted his base from Patiala. He defeated Congress heavyweight RL Bhatia.
The former cricketer’s relationship with the Badal family soured even though the Shiromani Akali Dal was a BJP ally then. And then he had problems with the BJP after the party fielded Arun Jaitley from Amritsar in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Though he was accommodated in the Rajya Sabha later, the maverick politician quit the party to join the Congress. ,