The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday dropped the contempt of court charges against Patiala jail superintendent Lakhwinder Singh Jakhar for not executing death warrants of Balwant Singh Rajoana.
Rajoana, a co-convict in assassination of the then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and 17 others on August 31, 1995 outside Punjab and Haryana civil secretariat, is in Patiala jail.
Chandigarh district court had fixed Rajoana’s date of execution for March 31 but Jakhar had refused to execute death warrants. Whereas, on March 28, President of India had stayed Rajoana’s hanging on Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee’s mercy petition.
Friday’s decision came from the division bench headed by justice Surya Kant after the court was satisfied with Jakhar’s submissions that he had followed the Supreme Court’s judgment in case of ‘Harbans Singh vs State of UP.
As per the SC judgment, it had been directed that prior to execution of death sentence, “the Jail Superintendent should ascertain personally whether the death sentence imposed upon any of the co-accused of the prisoner who is due to be hanged has been commuted and if it has been commuted, the Superintendent should apprise the superior authorities of the matter” so that it could be brought before the court concerned.
The division bench on Friday also observed that the jail superintendent had also submitted unconditional apology before the district court and again before the high court.
Appearing for Jakhar, Anupinder Singh Grewal, Punjab’s additional advocate general argued that the additional district and sessions judge had issued contempt notices to Jakhar out of her jurisdiction and the contempt notices can only be issued by the high court.
On March 27, additional district and sessions judge had issued contempt notice to Jakhar as he had refused to execute the death warrants by way of written communication on March 19 and on March 24. Later, Jakhar was issued notice by the high court on receipt of a reference made by the additional district and sessions judge, Chandigarh, Shalini Singh Nagpal on June 7.