After serving sentence in a road rage incident in which a man was killed 34 years ago, former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is all set to walk out of Patiala jail on Saturday (April 1).
A tweet from his official account this morning said that the 59-year-old cricketer-turned-politician will address the media outside jail around noon. The Punjab Congress leader had on Friday put a tweet that he was informed by the “concerned authorities” that he will be released on Saturday.
Supporters flock to greet him
Scores of his supporters have gathered outside the Central Jail in Patiala ahead of his release. ‘Dhol’ players have also been arranged to greet the cricketer-turned-politician as he will come out of the jail after almost 10 months. “He is a big leader and his release from prison is like a festive occasion for us,” said a Congress leader seen waiting outside the jail.
Also read: Navjot Sidhu surrenders in a Patiala court in 1988 road rage case
“Several posters and hoardings of Navjot Sidhu have been put up across Patiala by his supporters to welcome him. People of Punjab are waiting for Sidhu to come out of jail,” former Congress MLA Navtej Singh Cheema said.
Navjot Singh Sidhu was handed a one-year sentence in the road rage case and was due to be released in May, but is being released 48 days early on account of his “good behaviour”.
His lawyer HPS Verma said the Congress leader is getting an early release under the state’s general remission policy. “Navjot Sidhu’s scheduled release was in May, but for all prisoners with good conduct, all Sunday holidays get deducted from the sentence. Therefore, Sidhu is getting a 48-day remission,” he said.
Sentenced after review of 2018 order
The Supreme Court had in May last year ordered one-year “rigorous imprisonment” for the 59-year-old politician following a petition by the family of a man who died after a brawl with Navjot Sidhu and his friend in 1988. The family had asked for a harsher sentence and a review of a 2018 order from the Supreme Court acquitting him of murder.
Also read: SC sentences Navjot Sidhu to 1 year in jail in 1988 road rage case
On December 27, 1988, Navjot Sidhu got into an argument with 65-year-old Gurnam Singh, a resident of Patiala, over a parking issue. Sidhu and his friend, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, allegedly dragged Gurnam Singh out of his car and hit him. He later died in a hospital. Sidhu was accused by an eyewitness of killing Gurnam Singh with a blow to the head.
The Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Sidhu to pay a fine of ₹ 1,000 rupees for voluntarily hurting a person. However, the court, reviewing its own order, said it considered it “appropriate” to jail Sidhu, saying “some aggravated culpability” must be attached if a person dies.