What next for Balwant Singh Rajoana? Here are three scenarios – legal options and possibilities:
Option: The Patiala jail superintendent moves the Punjab and Haryana high court for stay on the Chandigarh court’s directive to hang Balwant Singh Rajoana.
The grounds: One, he can’t be executed in Punjab because he was convicted by the Union Territory court. Secondly, the petitions challenging the sentence of Rajoana’s co-convicts Jagtar Singh Hawara and Lakhwinder Singh Lakha are still pending before the Supreme Court.
Expert take: ''The outcome of the pending petition can have a legal bearing on Rajoana’s case'' says Punjab additional A-G Anupinder Singh Grewal. Adds Vinod Ghai, leading criminal lawyer:''Merely because Rajoana confessed his crime doesn’t mean that he should be hanged to death and others to life sentence on the same crime and same evidence.''
Possibility of stay: High
Option : The Punjab Government directly approaches the high court or the Supreme Court, seeking stay on the Chandigarh Court’s directive on execution of death warrant.
The ground: A condemned prisoner cann’t be hanged unless the state gives a green signal on its preparations. In the present case, Punjab hasn’t made such an application to the Chandigarh court. The SC may even issue a stay on a petition filed by human rights lawyer Navkiran Singh.
Expert take: ''The settled law is that the session court fixes the date for hanging only on the request of state government'' says constitutional expert Pritam Singh Kumedaan.
The President acts on the mercy petition filed by the third party (Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee and others) and stays the execution till a decision on the CBI’s petition in the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s conversion of Hawara’s death sentence into life term.
Expert take: ''Anyone can file the mercy petition and there is no issue of the 'locus standi' (legal right) on such petition'' says high court lawyer RS Bains.
Possibility: Medium, because the President entertains the mercy plea only after the legal options are exhausted.