A Chandigarh court has again ordered that Balwant Singh Rajoana be hanged as scheduled on March 31. But the chances of the hanging being actually carried out anytime soon appear remote.
Even as the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) sent a mercy petition to the President,Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been granted time for meeting President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday evening,where he will seek clemency for Rajoana. Sources in the Presidents office confirmed the meeting. Mr Badal has been given time for 6.45 tomorrow evening, said a Rashtrapati Bhawan official.
Sources in the Union Home Ministry said once the President forwards the mercy petition to the ministry,as is the established procedure,a message will immediately be sent to the state government and the jail where the hanging is scheduled,informing that the hanging be put on hold till the mercy petition is decided.
Under Article 72 of the Constitution,the President has the power to grant pardon,suspend,remit or commute sentences. Once the President forwards the mercy petition to us for consideration,we seek comments of the state government. Till the President decides the mercy petition,the execution stands stayed, said a MHA official.
Going by past history of how long it takes for the government to dispose of mercy pleas,even though Rajoana has repeatedly refused to seek mercy,accusing Badals Shiromani Akali Dal of playing vote-bank politics,the mercy petition filed in his case would delay the execution for at least a few years.