A love story gone sour: Judge’s daughter held in Sippy Sidhu murder case

Seven long years after the cold-blooded murder of 35-yr-old national shooter and lawyer Sippy Sidhu, which had shocked the nation, the CBI has arrested Kalyani Singh, daughter of acting Chief Justice Himachal Pradesh High Court, for her role in the murder. A report by Gurvinder Kaur

Seven long years after the cold-blooded murder of 35-year-old national shooter and budding lawyer Sukhmanpreet Singh Sidhu (Sippy Sidhu), the case finally seems to be making some headway with CBI arresting 38-year-old Kalyani Singh, daughter of Justice Sabina (acting Chief Justice Himachal Pradesh High Court) on June 15, 2022, in Chandigarh.

Sippy Sidhu, besides being a national level shooter and an advocate, was the grandson of a former judge of Punjab & Haryana High Court Justice S.S. Sidhu and son of the late Inder Pal Singh Sidhu, Additional Advocate General of Punjab. The alleged accused Kalyani is the daughter of Justice Sabina (the then Judge in the Punjab & Haryana High Court) and Parminder Singh, an advocate. Both the families were close friends for almost 30 years and Sippy and Kalyani gew up as childhood friends.

While in the university, Sippy started participating in shooting competitions along with famous Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra. He won many awards in rifle shooting competitions and was also the joint secretary of the Paralympic Committee of India. He then pursued law and later opened his law firm in Chandigarh. Three days before his murder, Sippy had returned from Canada after participating in a shooting competition there.

Trouble started brewing between the families when Sippy rejected Kalyani’s proposal for marriage. “When pressed by Kalyani’s parents as to why he was refusing to marry their daughter, Sippy told them that he could not marry her as she was already in relationship with other people, including a relative”, stated Deepinder Kaur Sidhu, mother of  Sippy and Jasmanpreet Singh Sidhu aka Jippy Sidhu, younger brother of Sippy Sidhu, while talking to Tehelka. “Sippy even forwarded some objectionable pictures of Kalyani and some people to her father as a proof,” they added.

Following this, there was bitterness between both the families as it was a cause for major embarrassment for Kalyani and her family. However, according to Sippy’s family, Kalyani’s parents and Kalyani continued to press Sippy for marriage. “Kalyani was relentless in the pursuit of my son”, said Deepinder Kaur. “She would ring him, send him mails, visit his office and meet him regularly. She even threatened and asked Sippy’s to-be fiancé to stay out of his life or face the consequences,” added Deepinder Kaur.

Before leaving home on that fateful evening on September 20, 2015 Sippy had reportedly told his mother that he was going to meet Kalyani. “She had been calling him daily (from 18th September, 2015) and asking him to meet her in a park in sector 27 ever since he returned from Canada three days ago. Sippy told her that he was very tired but she would not take no for an answer,” said Sippy’s mother.

“When I asked Sippy why did she want to meet him in that park in sector 27, he explained that she had started working as a dietitian in a clinic near the park,” she said.

‘I regret sending Sippy to meet her that evening, but as a mother I was fearful of her threats and felt the need to pacify her. She used to force Sippy for meetings threatening she would cut her wrist or kill herself,” Sippy’s mother added.

That very night Sippy was shot dead in that park in sector 27, Chandigarh. His murder had provoked nation-wide outrage and shock.

Kalyani was working as an Assistant Professor, Department of Home Science in a girls’ college in Sector 42, Chandigarh, when she was arrested by CBI a few days back. While seeking her remand, the CBI had stated in its report, “Kalyani had been in a romantic relationship with the victim which eventually went sour. Kalyani wanted to marry Sippy but her proposal was rejected by Sippy and his family. Sippy had leaked her objectionable pictures to her parents and friends, which had caused embarrassment to Kalyani and her family”. In its report, the CBI further stated “upon his return from Canada, Kalyani had contacted Sippy using mobile phones of random people and “compelled’ him to meet her in a park in sector 27. They met between September 18-20 in that park”. The CBI also stated, “Investigation has revealed that one unknown assailant and Kalyani Singh killed Sippy by using firearms. Thereafter both of them were seen running from the spot”.

Investigations by the CBI also revealed that though Kalyani was in regular contact with the victim, even asking about his journey plans through mail exchanges, she stopped contacting him a day before his return to India. Finally, the CBI summoned Kalyani for questioning and arrested her after it found she was ‘evasive in her responses’.

Kalyani’s lawyer Sartej Singh Narula told Tehelka that his client was innocent and was being framed to deflect attention from the real killers. “Anyone could have borne him a grudge as  he had six girlfriends. Or it could be that he was involved in money laundering or other shady deals with the rich and influential; it could also be a contract killing by a business associate. Kalyani is not involved at all. It was Kalyani who had rejected his proposal for marriage as per an email written by Sippy, he had asked her for forgiveness. There are no witnesses and she has an alibi at the time of the murder, she was present in a party”.

When asked about the objectionable pictures of Kalyani, including some with a relative, Narula said, “No one has seen the pictures, they could just be innocuous too. If a girl, for example, kisses her uncle on the cheek, it’s a normal thing to do, nothing wrong in that”.

Kin allege power and police nexus

“The investigation in the murder case was botched up completely in the initial stages itself by the handling officers of Chandigarh police. There are glaring lapses and omissions as they were under lot of pressure”, said Jippy Sidhu while talking to Tehelka. “The CBI has mentioned this in its report and recommended disciplinary action against certain police officers by name’, added Jippy.

The CBI in its report states, “Certain lapses were found on the part of Inspector Poonam Dilawari, the then SHO of the sector 26 police station, and Guriqbal Singh, the then ASP, in destruction of evidence which led to the delay in the arrest”

Timeline of events

September 20, 2015- Sippy Sidhu is shot dead at night in a public park in sector 27, Chandigarh. An FIR was registered by the Chandigarh police. Family members point at Kalyani Singh as suspect.

October 18, 2015- Kalyani Singh, daughter of Justice Sabina, the then Judge in Punjab & Haryana High Court, is questioned by Chandigarh police twice and then let off.

November 2015- A CSFL report suggests that a .12 bore gun is used in Sippy’s murder.

December 13, 2015- Family members of Sippy Sidhu demand the transfer of investigation to the CBI.

April 14, 2016 – Investigation is transferred to the CBI which registers a fresh FIR a week after Justice Sabina is transferred to the Rajasthan High Court.

September 6, 2016 – CBI announces a reward of Rs 5 lakh for anyone providing information about the killers.

2017- CBI puts out an advertisement in newspapers stating that there is a reason to believe that a woman was accompanying Sippy’s killers at the time of the murder. “The said woman is also being given this opportunity to come forward and contact us if she is innocent. Otherwise, it will be presumed that she was party to the offence”.

December 2020- CBI submits a status/untraced report in the court asking that the investigation be allowed to continue.

December 11, 2021 – CBI increases the reward money from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

February 2022 – Kalyani is questioned by the CBI.

June 15, 2022 – Kalyani is summoned for questioning by CBI. She is arrested as she is “evasive” in her answers and remanded in 4-day police custody which is later increased by two more days.

At the time of writing this article, Kalyani is in judicial custody for 14 days.