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"We can’t hang Balwant Singh Rajoana" say Patiala Jail authorities; Death warrants returned back
As per media reports dated March 15, 2012 the Punjab Jails Department has refused to execute the order of a Chandigarh court asking the Patiala Central Jail authorities to hang former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana, claiming that Punjab has no such understanding with the Chandigarh Administration. At present, Balwant Singh Rajoana is lodged in the Patiala jail.
Following a written request by the DGP (Jails) Shashi Kant to the Punjab Home Department this afternoon, the state government is now exploring legal options as to how “the execution orders by a Chandigarh court pertaining to the hanging of Balwant Singh Rajoana could be sent back without being executed”.
Media reports have quoted sources saying that technically Rajoana could not be hanged in any jail of Punjab and his execution would have to be carried out in the Burial Jail at Chandigarh.
Reports have further added that the state government was also not very keen on executing the Chandigarh court order in Punjab as the hanging could come as a setback for the newly formed government.
Media sources maintained that a decision in this regard was taken by the Jails Department this morning after a surprise visit of the DGP (Jails) to the Central Jail, Patiala, where he held a closed door meeting with jail officials. “The meeting lasted for over an hour and later Shashi Kant met Balwant Singh and also took stock of the security arrangements,” reports The Tribune.
The DGP (Jails) cited a 1983 agreement between Chandigarh and Punjab, wherein it was stated that the condemned prisoners could be kept in the Central Jail, Patiala, in lieu of daily lodging and boarding charges. However there is no provision that such prisoners would be hanged in the Central Jail, Patiala.
Shashi Kant is reported to have said that he had already apprised the Punjab Home Department on the issue and after taking into consideration various legal obligations, he would also get in touch with the court to apprise it of the facts pertaining to the case.
“Our Home Department would inform the UT Home Secretary shortly as our understanding with the Chandigarh Administration does not authorise us to hang a convict who committed a crime in Chandigarh and is their prisoner,” Kant is quoted to have said by The Tribune.
The denial to hang Rajoana has come as a major relief for the SAD-BJP government in Punjab as Sikhs in large numbers were against the hanging of Rajoana and his hanging in the state could have drawn criticism for the newly formed Badal-BJP government.
On Monday, the Central Jail, Patiala authorities have also returned the “black or death warrant” of the Chandigarh Court directing execution of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana on March 31, 2012. The authorities are reproted to have pleaded their inability to execute the hanging orders since the death sentence was awarded to Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana by a court whose jurisdiction falls outside the State of Punjab. It is notable that Chandigarh is a territory that is under the control of Central Government of India.
As per death warrants issued by additional session judge Chandigarh court Shalini Nagpal, Rajoana, who had confessed his role in assassination of chief minister of Punjab late Beant Singh, is scheduled to be hanged on March 31.
“Attaching a letter with the death warrant sent back, the Patiala jail authorities have said that since the bomb blast that killed Beant Singh on August 31, 1995, in which Rajoana was the back-up bomber, had occurred in Punjab Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh and the trial of that case was also carried out in Chandigarh there was no point of hanging him in Patiala jail” reports “Hindustan Times (HT)”.
“Rajoana was in Patiala Central Jail since November 2010, because another case against is pending in a Patiala court in which 12 kg of RDX was recovered from him in Patiala. So there was no point of hanging him in Patiala,” media sources inside the Patiala Jail authorities are reproted to have said on the condition of anonymity.
The news report further informs that “a highly placed official from jail department in Chandigarh said the decision to revert back the death warrant has been taken after due consultation of legal experts and discussion of the issue at various levels of the state government including the chief minister’s office”.
As per information available with “Sikh Siyasat” Sri Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh met Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana today. The meeting is reported to have lasted for more than half an hour in Patiala jail. Jathedar is reported to have asked Balwant Singh Rajoana to re-think over filing an appeal against the death penalty awarded to him.
“But Rajoana is adamant on not filing an appeal. On Tuesday, all five jathedars of Takhts would carry a meeting in Amritsar in which the next decision over the issue would be taken,” said Giani Gurbachan Singh.