This article was last updated on May 23, 2022
Former Indian cricketer and Congress party MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu addresses a crowd in New Delhi on November 4, 2020, during a protest against the recent passage of the Central government’s farm reform bills in the parliament.
In a decades-old road rage case, India’s highest court has jailed cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to one year in prison.
The Supreme Court decided that Sidhu “intentionally inflicted harm” to 65-year-old Gurnam Singh, resulting in Singh’s death in 1988.
In 2018, the former member of Congress was acquitted of the more serious allegation of manslaughter; this verdict currently stands.
The prison sentence, though, is a significant blow for his political future.
Recently, Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as the leader of the Congress party in Punjab after his party was wiped out in state assembly elections.
As he may only file a curative petition to challenge the verdict once, he is left with few legal choices.
Navjot Singh Sidhu was accused of manslaughter for the first time in 1988, when a 65-year-old man died in Patiala hours following an argument with him.
At the time, he was India’s opening batsman and a rising star in his international cricket career.
A trial court continued to hear the case. In 1999, Navjot Singh Sidhu was exonerated by the court.
The state challenged the acquittal to the supreme court, which in 2006 convicted him of manslaughter. This compelled him to retire from his Amritsar parliamentary seat, as Indian law prohibits convicted individuals from holding public office.
He filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which stayed the conviction and let him to run in a by-election. In 2018, the highest court cleared him of manslaughter but found him guilty of “injuring the victim” and fined him 1,000 rupees ($13; £10).
The victim’s family filed an appeal against the verdict, and on Thursday, the Supreme Court imposed a one-year prison sentence in addition to the fine.
Navjot Singh Sidhu is one of the most successful Test cricket players for India. Known for his sophisticated and powerful stroke play, he excelled against fast bowlers in particular, but was as adept at playing spin.
In 51 Tests, he scored 3,202 runs at an average of 42. He also participated in 136 ODIs and amassed 4,414 runs. After retiring from all forms of cricket in 1999, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and became an MP four years later. Over time, he rose to prominence as a party leader and campaign star.
In the following decade, he also established a successful career as a cricket commentator and a comedic TV personality. As a commentator, he was well-liked due to his wit and acuity.
But he became dissatisfied with the BJP when, despite the party’s overwhelming victory in the 2014 general election, he was apparently denied a significant position in the government.
In 2016, he left the BJP and joined the Congress, where he climbed to become the state chief of the Congress in Punjab.