Amid a demand by the Punjab government to grant clemency to Balwant Singh Rajoana in the Beant Singh killing case, the Centre on Tuesday appeared unwilling to intervene, with union law minister Salman Khurshid saying that neither it nor the state government "can do anything outside the system".
Asked about the Shiromani Akali Dal-led government's demand for clemency to Rajoana, Khurshid said: "I have also heard it but this is the system and neither the state government nor the Centre can do anything outside the system that has been put in place. We will have to work according to this."
Khurshid, however, cited Indian philosophy and epics which, he said, were disinclined to promote death penalties. "This is a country where philosophies and epics would be disinclined to promote death penalties," he said, adding that the Supreme Court has also taken this into account in its several prominent judgments.
He, however, stressed that the Supreme Court would take a final decision in this regard. Noting that the President has also granted clemency in some cases, he said, "Of course, there are clemencies and mercy petitions and President of India has over the years found suitable and appropriate reasons to grant clemency in many cases."
But the minister quickly added, "In any given case what will happen or not happen is something on which it would not be appropriate for me to comment."