Patiala jail superintendent has returned warrant to court
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday said there were various legal and technical impediments to the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who is to be hanged on March 31 as per the orders of a Chandigarh court for his involvement in the assassination of Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
Mr. Badal made a special statement in the Assembly, after Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal suspended question as well as zero hours.
As members of the ruling coalition and the Opposition listened in rapt attention, he said, “The jail superintendent is duty-bound to satisfy himself that no appeal for relief by any co-accused in such [a] case was under consideration of any court. After looking into the all the legal aspects of the case minutely, the… Superintendent of the Central Jail, Patiala, is of the view that … this case had many legal and constitutional shortcomings, loopholes and flaws, which made the execution of the court orders impossible within the ambit of law. Complying with the law and regulations, the… Superintendent has returned the warrant to the court.”
Mr. Badal said that in several judgments, the Supreme Court had acquitted, or given a lesser sentence to, the other co-accused, though they had not filed any appeal. In this case, the appeal of co-accused Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha was pending before the Supreme Court. “It is necessary to await the outcome of the matter in the… Supreme Court… before executing the death warrant of Balwant Singh Rajoana,” Mr. Badal said, adding the convict could also get the same relief even if he had not filled any appeal.
The Chief Minister said he would call upon President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek clemency for Rajoana. The Congress, especially the former Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, had supported the State government's efforts to save Rajoana from the gallows, he said. The State government received a copy of the mercy petition filed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee; the Advocate-General had also opined that no action could be initiated against Rajoana till the President decided on the petition.
Meanwhile, the Jail Superintendent Lakhwinder Singh Jakhar petitioned the Additional Districts and Sessions Court, Chandigarh, for deferment of the execution of the black warrant.
Judge Shalini Nagpal adjourned the hearing till Tuesday, after counsel for the CBI R.K. Handa and Rajan Malhotra contested the locus standi of the jail superintendent to move the petition.
Mr. Jakhar had returned the death warrants sent by the same court, citing issues of jurisdiction. Moreover, he pointed out that Rajoana was shifted to Patiala for his security. The agreement did not include execution of any sentence.