SC slams politics in Rajoana issue

The court observed that a “high drama” was played out in the Rajoana case,and clemency was sought for someone who had assassinated the former chief minister of Punjab.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: March 30, 2012 3:08 am

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over political considerations playing a role in disposal of mercy petitions,indirectly referring to the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana,who was put on death row for the killing of Punjab Chief Beant Singh,as a “telling situation”.

The court observed that a “high drama” was played out in the Rajoana case,and clemency was sought for someone who had assassinated the former chief minister of Punjab.

The remarks from the top court came a day after Centre stayed Rajoana’s scheduled execution on March 31 after Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal met President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday seeking clemency for Rajoana.

Rajoana’s case had split the political camp with the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab pleading for clemency,while the BJP and the Congress had maintained that law should take its course.

A CBI court had awarded the death sentence to Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara in the Beant Singh case on August 1,2007. Three others — Lakhwinder Singh,Gurmit Singh and Shamsher Singh — were sentenced to life imprisonment for hatching the conspiracy to kill Beant Singh.

The Chandigarh court had issued the death warrant to the Patiala jail authorities,asking them to hang Rajoana on March 31. Rajoana had chosen not to appeal against the death penalty.

“What has happened in last four days in a particular state is a telling situation. If the decision was taken at an appropriate time public exchequer would have been saved of many crores of Rupees. Entire thing is a drama,” a bench of Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya said.

The court rued how a person convicted of a murder of a chief minister,who has been found guilty of terrorism has found political party support.

The court was hearing an appeal by Devender Pal Singh Bhullar,who was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here in September 1993 on Raisina Road outside the Youth Congress office killing nine people,to commute his death penalty to life term owing to the “inordinate delay” by the government to decide on his mercy plea.

On Wednesday,the Bench had blamed the government squarely for the delay on the clemency plea,saying how courts have decided crores of cases since Independence,but the President had to decide only 300-odd mercy pleas. It had also sought an explanation for the lapse shown by the government in not submitting the medical reports on Bhullar,allegedly suffering from psychiatric illness,to the President at the time forwarding his mercy plea.

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