The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to decide before January 26 on the plea seeking commutation of the death penalty of Balwant S Rajoana who is convicted in the assassination case of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said the decision should be taken before January 26 which is a “good date”.
In December last year, the court had questioned the delay on the part of the Centre in sending a proposal related to Rajoana’s death sentence to the President under Article 72 of the Constitution, which deals with the President granting pardon, suspending, remitting or commuting sentences in certain cases.
Rajoana, a former Punjab Police constable, was convicted for his involvement in an explosion outside the Punjab civil secretariat that killed Beant Singh and 16 others in 1995.
He was arrested in December 1995 by the Punjab Police and a special CBI court in Chandigarh awarded him the death penalty on July 27, 2007.
It also gave the death penalty to Jagtar Singh Hawara, and life imprisonment to Gurmit Singh, Lakhwinder Singh and Shamsher Singh, involved in the assassination case.
Rajoana was to be hanged on March 31, 2012, but the Centre stayed the execution after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) submitted a mercy petition to the President.
Demanding a decision on the mercy petition filed by the SGPC, Rajoana went on hunger strikes in 2016 and 2018 in Patiala Central Jail and he ended a five-day hunger strike after SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal assured him that his petition will be taken up expeditiously.