A defiant Patiala Central Jail superintendent LS Jakhar said on Tuesday that he was "unable and disabled in law" to accept the warrants and carry out the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana - as ordered by the Chandigarh sessions court - and would approach the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Additional district and sessions judge Shalini Singh Nagpal on Tuesday directed that her earlier orders on carrying out Rajoana's execution on March 31 at Patiala Central Jail be complied with.
Jakhar claimed there were "legal infirmities" in procedure in the sessions court orders, and requested the court to defer the sentence order till the Supreme Court announced its ruling in the appeals concerning Lakhwinder Singh Lakha and Jagtar Singh Hawara, both convicts in the Beant Singh assassination case.
He said it was his duty to ensure that the procedure established by law is "meticulously followed" before carrying out a death sentence. He said according to Supreme Court guidelines, before carrying out any death sentence, the jail superintendent should ascertain personally whether the death sentence imposed upon any co-accused, of the prisoner due to be hanged, has been commuted.
If commuted, the superintendent should apprise senior authorities of the matter, who in turn must take prompt steps for bringing the matter to the notice of the courts concerned, Jakhar said.
He told the court that both Balwant and Hawara were sentenced to death, but while the death sentence of Hawara was commuted to life by the Punjab and Haryana high court, Lakha's appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.
Subsequently, the CBI filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the commuting of Hawara's sentence.
"Since two different appeals linked to two other convicts in the same case are pending in the Supreme Court, there is no question of hanging the third accused before the Supreme Court decides on the two appeals," Jakhar told HT.
He claimed that after reading the sessions court judgment, it was clear that it has observed that no appeal has been filed by Lakha in the Supreme Court though "we had attached certified copies" of the plea filed by Lakha in the Supreme Court. "So in such a scenario, we would be moving the high court seeking legal remedies in the case," he said.