Supreme Court asks Centre to decide Rajoana's plea for commutation of death penalty in Beant Singh assassination case : The Tribune India

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Supreme Court asks Centre to decide Rajoana's plea for commutation of death penalty in Beant Singh assassination case

A three-judge Bench led by Justice UU Lalit said the decision should be taken without being influenced by pending appeals of other convicts in the case

Supreme Court asks Centre to decide Rajoana's plea for commutation of death penalty in Beant Singh assassination case

Balwant S Rajoana. File photo



Tribune News Service

Beant Singh Assassination Case: Decide Rajoana’s mercy plea in two months, SC tells Centre

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, May 2

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to take a decision in two months on the mercy petition of death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana in the former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh assassination case.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice UU Lalit said the decision should be taken without being influenced by pending appeals of other convicts in the case and posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of July.

Convicted of assassinating Beant Singh in 1995, Rajoana has been in jail for 25 years awaiting his execution. The former Punjab Chief Minister and 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh in 1995.  He was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special court. His mercy petition has been hanging fire for more than eight years.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had said the mercy petition can’t be considered as it was filed by another organisation and not Rajoana himself and that it can’t be decided until the appeals of other convicts was decided by the top court.

Interestingly, Rajoana has not challenged his conviction or sentence. The Bench, however, said the authorities have sent several official communications to Rajoana.

The Supreme Court had on March 25 asked the Centre to immediately looked into the mercy plea of Rajoana for commuting the death penalty awarded to him in the case.

“The matter shall immediately be looked into by the authorities concerned, including the Government of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation,” it had said.

The Bench had noted that despite the Centre seeking time to spell out its stand, “nothing has been done in the matter and the learned counsel appearing for Union of India has no clear instructions in the matter.”

The top court had ordered the CBI to make the proposal for or objection commutation of death penalty in two weeks.

“The appropriate authority in the Central Government shall bestow attention and take the required decision within two weeks of the receipt of the proposal or objection from the Central Bureau of Investigation,” the Bench – which also included Justice S Ravinndraa Bhat and PS Narasimha—had said.

“The Action Taken Report and the decision in terms thereof shall be placed on record of this case on or before 30.04.2022, failing which the concerned Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, Government of India, and the Director (Prosecution), Central Bureau of Investigation shall remain personally present along with the concerned record in the Court on the next occasion,” it had ordered.

The petitioner’s counsel had earlier said the convict’s mercy petition had been pending for almost nine years and the case shouldn’t be adjourned for more than two weeks.

Citing Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s case, the petitioner has claimed that the “Delay caused by circumstances beyond the prisoners’ control mandates commutation of death sentence.” The inordinate delay caused agony and adversely affected his physical and mental health, Rajaona contended.

Maintaining that Pendency of appeals by co-accused has no bearing on Presidential pardon granted to a death-row convict, the Supreme Court had questioned the Centre over delay in sending proposal to the President for commuting Rajoana’s death penalty.

 

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