Khurshid declines to comment on Rajoana's death sentence

   Mar 28, 11:36 am

New Delhi, Mar 28 (ANI): Refusing to intervene on the issue of granting clemency to Balwant Singh Rajoana, the assassin of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, who is scheduled to be hanged on March 31, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid has said the government cannot defy the law and has to work within the system.

"Neither the state government, central government, or even I, can do anything against the system, and, we will have to work according to the system," Khurshid told media here. The Supreme Court has also taken this into account and the famous judgment of the Supreme Court where it cut down the death sentence to the rarest to rare cases. Now, given the very small windown but till that window is there, obviously the law remains, the death sentence is permissible," Khurshid said.

"But when should we apply, when an exception should be made, what are therarest of rare cases, it is for the Supreme Court ultimately to judge. Thereafter, there are clemencies, mercy petitions, and the President of India has over the years, found suitable reasons and appropriate reasons, to grant clemency also in many cases. But in any given case, what will happen or not happen is something on which it would not be appropriate for me to comment," he added.

Khurshid's views assume significance in the wake of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal likely to meet President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh today to take up the issue of converting the death sentence given to Rajoana, to a life sentence, if not a pardon.

On Tuesday, Chandigarh Additional District and Sessions Judge Shalini Nagpal ordered the hanging of Rajoana on March 31, and also issued contempt of court notices to the jail superintendent and other jail officials of the Patiala jail for forwarding Rajoana's death warrant to her court, saying the jail could not carry out Rajoana execution because the case was weak legally.

The Patiala Jail superintendent now has no option but to approach the High Court in the matter. Judge Nagpal's verdict was announced even as security was stepped up across the state of Punjab.

It maybe recalled that Rajoana was involved in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.

However, Rajoana has written a letter to the Akal Takht saying there was no need for anyone to seek clemency for him. He has also refused to accept any sympathy from the BJP, Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh or from Beant Singh 's family members.

In a letter to the Akal Takht, which he handed over to his sister Kamaldeep Kaur, Rajoana wrote, "I have fought for my rights all through my life. I do not want to give away my principles for anyone."

"Asking for mercy from them is not even in my distant dreams," Rajoana said in his letter. (ANI)

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