Edited By: Oindrila Mukherjee
Last Updated: February 04, 2023, 00:25 IST
The premature release of former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu continues to be shrouded in uncertainty. The Bhagwant Mann-led cabinet on Friday approved remittance of the sentence of five prisoners, but did not include the cricketer-turned politician lodged in Patiala Jail.
The cabinet formally remitted the sentence of three prisoners under the Amrit Mahotsav scheme of the Centre, but Sidhu’s name was not among them that left his supporters dejected. Speculation has been rife over a special remittance to Sidhu since December, when the state jails department started an exercise to identify prisoners who could be released on January 26, under the scheme.
There was some indication that Sidhu will be released when the jails department was headed by Harjot Singh Bains. After the cabinet reshuffle in January, when the jails department was taken over by the chief minister, speculation began to abate.
After the jails department reportedly prepared a case to recommend the names of eight prisoners for remittance of sentence under the Amrit Mahotsav scheme, rumours about Sidhu being included again gained momentum. The cabinet, however, has cleared the names of just three prisoners for sentence remission in this scheme. These include Lakhvir Singh (lodged in Central Jail, Faridkot), Ravinder Singh (lodged in Central Jail, Amritsar) and Taspreet Singh (lodged in Central Jail, Ludhiana).
The other two whose premature release has been approved for remittance by the Punjab cabinet include Anirudh Mandal and Shambhu Mandal, both lodged in Ludhiana jail. The duo have reportedly served their term, but it was extended as they could not deposit the imposed fine due to financial constraints.
Even as Sidhu’s anticipated release on grounds of special remission has not materialised so far, the former minister will be eligible to walk out of jail in April, around a month and a half before he completes his one-year jail term on May 19.
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