M A I N   N E W S

Hang Rajoana, says court
* Stick to March 31 deadline, Punjab told * Contempt notice to jail superintendent
Aneesha Sareen/TNS

Chandgarh, March 27
For a second time today, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Shalini Nagpal returned the death warrants to hang former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana and directed Patiala Central Jail authorities to hang the convict on March 31.

Rejecting the petition filed by Patiala jail superintendent LS Jakhar seeking deferment of the hanging, the judge issued a contempt notice to Jakhar for returning the execution warrants twice to the court.

The superintendent, however, refused to receive the death warrants from the court, saying he would file an appeal before the High Court tomorrow in an attempt to explore all legal possibilities. Jakhar told the court that the jail authorities were “unable to execute the death warrants.”

While returning the death warrants, the court stated: “The superintendent of Patiala jail has not once, but on two occasions, refused to execute the warrants of death sentence by way of written communication — March 19 and March 24. These intend to interfere with the due course of judicial proceedings, obstruct the administration of justice and also lower the authority of the court. As such, let a show-cause notice be issued to the superintendent to appear in person in court on April 16 and explain why proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act should not be initiated against him.”

“The death warrants, along with relevant documents, are ordered to be returned to the superintendent of Patiala jail for execution,” the order added.

On Monday, the superintendent had returned the warrants and filed a petition in court that the death warrant could not be executed as appeals of co-accused in the case are pending before the Supreme Court. It was also contended that since Rajoana was convicted by a Chandigarh court, the Punjab Government had no jurisdiction to carry out his execution.

While dismissing both these arguments, the judge stated that since the court has already notified where the condemned prisoner was confined, there was no question of addressing the warrants for execution of sentence of death to the Superintendent, Model Jail, Burail in Chandigarh.

“Since the Punjab Government had agreed to the arrangement for transfer of condemned prisoners of UT to Central Jail, Patiala, it does not behove the state of Punjab to refuse the execution warrants,” added the order.

While quoting an agreement with the Punjab jail authorities, the court said that vide a letter dated August 16, 1982 even lifers of district jail, Chandigarh, were agreed to be transferred to five Central Jails in Punjab.

“Can the state of Punjab refuse to execute the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to those prisoners on the grounds that it had no territorial jurisdiction?” the court asked.

The court said Rajoana was transferred on a mutual basis from Burail Jail to Patiala and the jail authorities were thus bound by law to execute the orders of the court.

Dismissing the argument that the appeal of the co-accused is pending before the apex court, the judge stated, “The facts in this case are on a different footing altogether. Neither the additional advocate general nor the counsels appearing for the CBI can vouch whether Jagtar Singh Hawara has filed an appeal against the order dated October 12, 2010 of the High Court affirming his conviction and commuting the death sentence. The only appeal in respect of Hawara, a co-accused who has been awarded sentence of death, is one filed by CBI against the verdict of the high court commuting the death sentence.

“Rajoana has not filed any appeal and as per his application forwarded to this court, he does not intend to file an appeal. If any mercy petition has been filed before the President, it is not by condemned prisoner. The question of maintainability and locus standi is another issue,” added the order.

The court also cited the dismissal of the PIL by Lawyers for Human Rights International last week by the high court.

The court of then ADJ Ravi Kumar Sondhi had awarded death sentence to both Rajoana and Hawara on August 1, 2007 in the Beant case.

Rajoana did not appeal against the judgment. The death penalty of Hawara, who filed an appeal against it, was commuted to life term.





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