The Supreme Court Thursday criticized the Punjab government for enacting a “drama” to frustrate the execution of death sentence awarded to Sikh terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana in the assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.
The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya observed: “We would have liked to avoid everything… but what has happened in last four days in a particular state is a telling situation.”
“If decision was taken at an appropriate time, the public exchequer would have been saved many crore of rupees,” the court observed.
The court described the entire thing as a drama.
The court further said: “When a person is convicted of a murder of a chief minister in broad daylight, it is being noticed that person is guilty of terrorism, and in this case he has found support of political parties. Parties have garnered support from such persons… how can they now leave them.”
The court said this in the course of the hearing where it is examining the question whether a convict who has filed a mercy petition was entitled to commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds of inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition.
The court Wednesday during the hearing of the matter had pointing to the different treatment different convicts on the death row receive. The court observed that those who have godfathers within and outside the country to orchestrate their case get a different treatment than those who are mute. The court wondered if “we are a country of drum beaters”.
Appearing for the government, Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal told the court that the president would be provided with the health record of the convict on death row only of the time when he had committed the offence and not concerning his health today.
Rawal said this while responding to the court’s query Wednesday whether non placement of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar’s latest health reports before the President at the time of deciding his mercy petition did not merit a judicial review of the rejection of his mercy petition.
Contesting Bhullar’s plea that inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition was in itself a ground for the commutation of his death sentence, Rawal said that mere delay was not enough for the remission of death sentence to life imprisonment.
Bhullar was convicted and awarded death sentence for his involvement in a bomb blast at Youth Congress office in 1993. Bhullar had filed the mercy petition on Jan 14, 2003 which was rejected by the President on May 25, 2011.