SC reserves verdict on Balwant Singh Rajoana's plea for commutation of his death penalty : The Tribune India

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SC reserves verdict on Balwant Singh Rajoana's plea for commutation of his death penalty

SC reserves verdict on Balwant Singh Rajoana's plea for commutation of his death penalty


Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday reserved its verdict on former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh assassination case convict Balwant Singh Rajoana’s petition seeking commutation of his death penalty on the ground that the Centre failed to take a decision on his mercy petition for a considerably long period.

Convicted for assassinating Beant Singh in 1995, Rajoana (56) has been in jail for 26 years. 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.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice BR Gavai reserved the verdict after hearing senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing Rajoana, and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Natraj for the Centre.

“We will ask the Home Secretary to be present in the next hearing? Mr Nataraj, on the face of it, it is contempt…. Why have you not decided on the mercy plea?” Justice Gavai told the ASG during the hearing.

Rohatgi argued that keeping Rajoana on death row while sitting over his mercy plea for such a long time violated his fundamental rights.

Terming it “inhuman”, Rohatgi urged the top court to release him forthwith.

The senior counsel said despite the government having announced to spare him the gallows on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, no decision had been taken on his mercy plea.

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