News - Punjab Government Denies the Execution of Bhai Rajoana

A day before the meeting of the Core Committee of the Akali Dal, Punjab Government late on Saturday evening practically made it clear that it was legally and administratively untenable to hang Balwant Singh Rajoana in Central Jail, Patiala on March 31. 

In a letter-cum-petition to Shalini Singh Nagpal, the Additional Sessions Judge who issued the death warrant, the Superintendent of Central Jail Patiala has pointed out several procedural lacunae in the order saying that the death warrant should have been sent to Burail Jail, Chandigarh rather than Patiala. Citing High Court rules and orders, he said that Rajoana was originally an inmate of Burail Jail and not of Patiala jail.

“The State of Punjab has no jurisdiction in law to execute the death sentence since the offence has taken place within the jurisdiction of Union Territory of Chandigarh. The trial was also conducted at Chandigarh and the conviction and sentence was also passed by Additional Sessions Judge at Chandigarh,” the letter said.

The letter, drafted after consulting legal experts, pointed out that the Supreme Court of India has in several judgments extended the benefit of acquittal or lesser sentence to the other co-accused although they had not filed an appeal, indicating that it was necessary to await the outcome of the matter in the Supreme Court of India before executing the death warrant.

“Balwant Singh Rajoana not filing any appeal or mercy petition so far is of no consequence in as much as the execution of the death sentence cannot be effected till the Supreme Court finally adjudicates the matter,” the letter-cum-petition said, adding, “ It will not be possible to bring him back to life in case the Supreme Court decides that the matter does not warrant death sentence and may commute to life imprisonment or it may even acquit co-accused/any accused on the ground that the prosecution case under the facts and circumstances is not established beyond reasonable doubt.”

It is also possible that Balwant Singh Rajoana changes his mind and files appeal or mercy petition. It is therefore necessary to let the law complete its final course before executing the death sentence, the letter said.
Sources said that there are legal infirmities in the procedure followed and the State of Punjab has no territorial jurisdiction in the matter.

The Superintendent of the Patiala Jail has requested the court to defer the execution of death sentence of Rajoana till the decision of the Supreme Court, in Appeal filed by co-accused Lakhwinder Singh Lakha which is pending adjudication.

The jail has also expressed its inability to execute the warrant of death due to the legal and administrative infirmities and returned the warrants for the execution of sentence of death.

The assertions of the Superintendent, has the backing of the Punjab Government which is watching the situation closely, particularly the gathering of the hardliners and their decision to call for a Punjab bandh on March 29. Sources said that there was no possibility of hanging given the legal infirmity from which the death warrant suffers and also due to the grave implications it could have on law and order situation in Punjab.


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