Beant Singh assassination: SC gives Centre two weeks to decide on convict’s mercy plea
The Centre sought three weeks to decide on the nine-year-old mercy plea of convict Balwant Singh Rajoana.
The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre two weeks to decide on commuting the death penalty of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who was convicted for the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, reported The Tribune.
“We are giving you last chance to decide on commutation of death penalty of Balwant Rajoana,” the court said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the Centre was still “examining the mercy plea”, reported NDTV. It sought three more weeks to take a call on the matter. “A decision now will have some repercussions under the present circumstances, so please adjourn it by three weeks,” Mehta said.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde, however, was of the view that three weeks’ time was “unreasonable” and decided to give the government two weeks to arrive at a decision.
The Supreme Court had on January 8 asked the Centre to decide on the nine-year-old mercy plea of Rajoana by January 26, reported the Hindustan Times. He has been in jail for over 25 years after being convicted of triggering a bomb blast that killed then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in August 1995.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Rajoana, had said that the delay in processing the mercy plea was fatal to death sentence. “This is enough for commutation of death sentence to life as decided by the Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan case in 2014,” he said.
Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj told the court that the mercy plea file had been processed by the home ministry. “It has been sent to the competent authority to take a decision,” Nataraj said.
Rajoana had moved the Supreme Court last year about the delay by the Centre to process his mercy petition. He had filed the mercy plea on March 25, 2012. The Supreme Court had on December 4 asked the Centre about the delay and was told that the proposal for commutation of his sentence was yet to be processed.
Rajoana was sentenced to death on July 27, 2007. He and his associate Jagtar Singh Hawara were found guilty by a trial court in the killing of Beant Singh by triggering a bomb blast at the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat on August 31, 1995. On October 12, 2010, the Punjab and Haryana High Courts had confirmed Rajoana’s death penalty.