The Centre today informed the Supreme Court of India that the President has started the process of examining the mercy pleas filed on behalf of Balwant Singh Rajoana. Rajoana was awarded death sentence for the assassination of the then Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.
After the Centre’s submission, the apex court gave the Centre six more weeks to decide on the mercy pleas filed on behalf of Rajoana.
In the last hearing of the case, the apex court had directed the Centre to decide on the mercy plea and had given two weeks to it.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal had been urging the Centre to commute Rajoana’s death sentence and set him free. Badal had said that Rajoana should be released on humanitarian grounds as he has already served more than the effective equivalent of a life sentence.
Balwant Singh Rajoana was a constable in Punjab Police. He was convicted for his involvement in an explosion outside the Punjab Civil Secretariat in 1995. Then Punjab CM Beant Singh and 16 other people were killed in that explosion. Rajoana is serving imprisonment for over 25 years now.
A resident of Rajoana Kalan village in Ludhiana district, he had joined Punjab Police on October 1, 1987. Rajoana is presently lodged in Patiala Central Jail. According to reports, he was sympathetic to Babbar Khalsa International. After the death of Beant Singh, Rajoana had justified the CM’s assassination blaming Singh for carrying out extra-judicial killings of Sikh youth. He had also expressed deep anguish over Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
The Punjab Police had arrested Rajoana in December 1995. A special CBI court in Chandigarh had awarded him the death penalty on July 27, 2007, after a decade-long trial.