Will Punjab CM killer’s death sentence be commuted?

Chennai: The Supreme Court granted ‘last chance’ to the Centre to decide within two weeks on Balwant S Rajoana’s plea seeking commutation of death penalty in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case.

The Centre sought three weeks to decide on the plea saying the government is examining the issue and needs time under the present circumstances, without elaborating further

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, “why does government need three weeks, what is it doing?”

Mehta said that under the present circumstances, it is advisable to have the matter after three weeks. The bench said, “We are giving you one last chance. Two weeks”.

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Rajoana, said that this man is in jail for the last over 25 years and his mercy petition is pending for last nine years.

Mehta submitted that the government is examining it and urged the top court to have the matter after three weeks, under the present circumstances.

Rajoana, a former Punjab Police constable, was convicted for his involvement in an explosion outside the Punjab civil secretariat that killed Beant Singh and 16 others in 1995.

The top court had on 8 January, asked the Centre to take a decision before 26 January on Rajoana’s plea for commutation of his death penalty in the case.

Rajoana’s counsel had argued that his client’s mercy petition is pending since 2012 and the top court has held that the death sentence of a person, if delayed for over eight years, can be commuted.

The Centre had assured the top court that a decision will be taken by then and the file will be sent to the president by then.


NT Bureau