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MHA recommends commutation of death sentence of Beant Singh’s assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana

File photo of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who has been sentenced to death in the murder case of former Punjab CM Beant Singh.

File photo of Balwant Singh Rajoana, who has been sentenced to death in the murder case of former Punjab CM Beant Singh.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Home Ministry took an ‘in-principle’ decision as a ‘humanitarian gesture’ ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The MHA took an “in principle” decision on September 30 to commute the death sentence as a “humanitarian gesture” ahead of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak.

R. Venkat Ratnam, Principal Secretary (Jails), Punjab, told The Hindu that they had received the communication from the MHA and forwarded it to the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

“Since the crime took place in the jurisdiction of UT of Chandigarh, it is up to them how they process the case and present it before the President of India. MHA wrote a letter to UT Chandigarh and endorsed a copy to us; we have forwarded the letter to them,” Mr. Ratnam said.

Based on the replies received by the Centre, the President can commute the death sentence under Article 72 of the Constitution.

The MHA also decided to release eight other prisoners convicted for life for their involvement in Sikh militancy as a ‘token of goodwill’.

Beant Singh and at least 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh in 1995.

Rajoana was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special court and he refused to file a mercy petition. The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body of the Sikhs, filed a petition on his behalf in 2014.

BJP ally and NDA member, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), had been pressing the Centre to commute Rajoana’s death sentence.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 8:54:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mha-recommends-commutation-of-death-sentence-of-beant-singh-assassin-balwant-singh-rajoana/article29950970.ece

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