हिंदी खबर
The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India

Beant Singh killing: SC directs Centre to decide on Rajoana's mercy plea by April-end

ANI | Updated: Mar 26, 2022 11:08 IST

New Delhi [India], March 26 (ANI): The Supreme Court has directed the Central government to immediately take a decision on granting pardon to Balwant Singh Rajoana, awarded death sentence for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995, and asked it to file an action taken report on the decision.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat, and PS Narasimha directed Union Home Secretary and Director (Prosecution) CBI to remain present in Court on May 2, the next date of hearing, in case the Centre fails to make a decision.
"Action Taken Report and the decision in terms thereof shall be placed on record of this case on or before April 30, 2022, failing which the concerned Secretary, Department of Home Affairs, Government of India, and the Director (Prosecution), Central Bureau of Investigation shall remain personally present along with the concerned record in the Court on the next occasion. List this matter for further consideration on May 2, 2022," the bench stated in its order.
The apex court was irked over the Centre not taking any clear stand on Rajoana's commutation of sentence despite being given time by the court to do so.
"Nothing has been done in the matter and the counsel appearing for Union of India has no clear instructions. We direct that the matter shall immediately be looked into by the concerned authorities including the Government of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)," the Supreme Court said.
The order came on a petition filed by Rajoana, who moved the top court two years ago seeking implementation of a decision taken by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in September 2019 to commute Rajoana's death sentence to life.
The bench directed the CBI to send the proposal or the objection on commutation of punishment of Rajaona to that government within two weeks and further said that appropriate authority in the Central government shall bestow attention and take the required decision within two weeks of the receipt of the proposal or objection from the CBI.

"We are now concerned in this writ petition with the alleged inaction on part of the concerned authorities in not commuting the death sentence awarded to the petitioner in keeping with the communication dated September 27, 2019. It is in this light that the present writ petition prays that the mercy petition preferred by the petitioner on March 23, 2012, be taken up for disposal
immediately and his death sentence be commuted to imprisonment for life," the bench further stated in its order passed on Thursday.
Last year, the top court had asked the Central government to take a decision on mercy pleas filed on behalf of Balwant Singh Rajoana while hearing his plea seeking direction for expeditious disposal of MHA's proposal to commute his death sentence.
The top court had earlier said that it is untenable on part of the Centre to take a stand that the proposal for the commutation of the death sentence of Rajoana, a former Punjab Police constable, was not processed because of the pendency of appeals of co-accused in Beant Singh killing case.
The bench had said once the government has decided to recommend a Presidential pardon for a condemned man, the pendency of appeals in the Supreme Court of his co-accused cannot delay the process initiated under Article 72.
The Centre processed remission in September 2019 of Rajoana, who was awarded capital punishment for Singh's killing. He has been in jail for 26 years.
The top court had earlier said that appeal pending by other co-accused has no relevance to the decision by the Ministry of Home Affairs to commute the death sentence of some convicts taken to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
It had noted that by a letter dated September 27, 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs had written to the Chief Secretary of Punjab government that on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nayak Dev, the release of some prisoners is proposed.
The Centre had sought time to make a statement on the issue of when the proposal will be sent for processing to the President.
The convict, Balwant Singh Rajoana, was sentenced to death for the murder of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh who died in a bomb explosion in Chandigarh on August 31, 1995.
The Centre had decided in September 2019 to commute the death penalty of Rajoana to a life sentence on the special occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. More than two years have passed but the decision is yet to be implemented.
He had approached the apex court seeking commutation of sentence to life imprisonment for the failure on part of the Central government to decide on his mercy petition filed eight years ago.
A Chandigarh court had, on July 27, 2007, awarded a death sentence to Rajoana which was upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 12, 2010. Rajoana has not filed an appeal against the decision and instead filed a mercy petition before the President. (ANI)