SC gives Centre 14 days to decide on Rajoana’s mercy plea

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25

The Supreme Court on Monday gave a last chance to the Centre to take a call on the mercy plea filed by Balwant S Rajoana for commuting the death penalty awarded to him in former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh”s assassination case.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde — which had earlier asked the government to decide Rajoana’s mercy petition before the Republic Day — gave two more weeks after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government was examining the issue.

The Solicitor General said it would not be prudent to decide the matter at this juncture as it could have some repercussions in the present situation.

As Mehta sought three weeks, the CJI shot back, “Why three weeks? What is happening Mr. Mehta?…Three-week is unreasonable. We asked you to decide before January 26.”

The Solicitor General said, “The decision going either way will have some repercussions in the present circumstances.”

The Bench agreed to grant two weeks as a last chance for the government to decide the matter.

On behalf of the petitioner, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi for petitioner opposed Mehta’s request, saying, “The man (Rajoana) is in jail for 25 years. His mercy plea has been pending for over eight years.”

“He is in jail for killing a chief minister,” replied Mehta.

Convicted of assassinating Beant Singh in 1995, Rajoana has been in jail for 25 years awaiting his execution. The former Punjab Chief Minister and 16 others were killed in an explosion outside the Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh in 1995.

Rajaona was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special court. His mercy petition under Article 72 of the Constitution is hanging fire for eight years.