Chandigarh: Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is undergoing a year’s rigorous imprisonment in a jail in his hometown Patiala in a 1988 road rage case, is likely to be released prematurely on Saturday, with a remission of 45 days in his prison term.
“This is to inform everyone that Sardar Navjot Singh Sidhu will be released from Patiala Jail tomorrow. (As informed by the concerned authorities),” a tweet from Sidhu’s handle said on Friday.
However, officials of the central jail have not confirmed his release prematurely.
Sidhu on May 20, 2022, surrendered before a court in Patiala in a 1988 road rage case that had led to the death of a 65-year-old man.
Jail officials told IANS that Sidhu would be prematurely released for his good conduct. His scheduled release from jail was May 16.
Earlier, Sidhu’s early release along with other prisoners was under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in January, but the AAP government in the state denied his remission of sentence.
Sidhu has been lodged in an ordinary barrack as the government has decided to abandon the special cells in jails for VIP prisoners.
At one point of time, Bikram Singh Majithia, one of the most powerful Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders, was in judicial custody in the same jail where Sidhu was lodged.
Both Sidhu and Majithia, who is facing charges in a drugs case, were once close friends and now political enemies.
They were in fray from Amritsar (East) in the recently held Assembly polls and the seat witnessed a bitter battle. They faced defeat from AAP’s greenhorn Jeevan Jyot Kaur.
The apex court, which reserved the judgment in March, overturned its 2018 judgment, which had reduced the punishment for Sidhu in the case, after a review petition was filed by the family of Gurnam Singh, who had died in the incident.
On December 27, 1988, the cricketer-turned-politician and one of his friends, Rupinder Singh Sandhu, had on December 27, 1988, hit Gurnam Singh, 65, on his head near the Sheranwala Gate crossing in Patiala.
Police had said Sidhu fled from the scene after committing the crime. Gurnam Singh was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.
Sidhu said Gurnam Singh died of a cardiac arrest and not because he was punched in the head.
Sidhu was acquitted of the murder charges by a trial court in September 1999. However, the Punjab High Court reversed the verdict and held Sidhu and his co-accused guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in December 2006. It sentenced them to three years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each.
Both Sidhu and Sandhu filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, which stayed their conviction in 2007.
In 2018, the Supreme Court acquitted him of culpable homicide and convicted him of causing hurt in a road rage case in which one person died.
In February 2022, the apex court agreed to hear a plea seeking review of its May 15, 2018 verdict, where it let off Sidhu with a mere Rs 1,000 fine.