SC gives Centre two weeks to decide on Rajoana mercy plea
- Rajaona was convicted over the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in August 1995.
The Supreme Court on Monday directed the government to decide on mercy plea of death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana in two weeks, and said this would be the “last chance” for the Centre to move ahead on a matter pending since 2012.
Rajaona was convicted over the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in August 1995, and handed the death sentence by a trial court in 2007. His sentence was upheld by the high court in 2010.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee had moved separate mercy pleas seeking pardon for Rajoana in March 2012. The President’s secretariat forwarded the two mercy petitions, along with similar appeals received from various organisations and individuals supporting Rajoana’s release, to the ministry of home affairs .
In November 2020, the Centre informed the Court that the decision on mercy petition was put on hold awaiting the outcome of an appeal filed by Rajoana’s co-convicts. In January, when the matter was last heard, MHA told the court that Rajoana’s file had been processed at their end, and what remained was a decision by the President.
In Monday’s hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested for a further three weeks. “The Government is examining the matter...Any decision would have some repercussions in the present circumstances,” he said.
However, a three-judge bench headed by CJI SA Bobde found no reason to grant more time. “By way of last chance, list the matter after two weeks,” the bench ordered. Rajoana’s lawyer, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, opposed the adjournment request by Centre on the ground that for over eight years, the Centre has been sitting on a slew of pleas seeking mercy for Rajoana
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