Union Home Minister Amit Shah Tuesday confirmed that no pardon has been granted to Balwant Singh Rajoana, one of the convicts in the 1995 assassination case of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh. Responding to a question by Congress leader Ranveet Singh Bittu, the grandson of Beant Singh, Shah said: “Koi maafi ki nahi gayi (no pardon has been given)”. He was speaking in Parliament during Question Hour.
On September 27 this year, the Centre had recommended that Rajoana’s death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Rajoana is currently lodged in Patiala Central Jail.
Bittu has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah of doublespeak on terror, adding that “Rajoana is a dreaded terrorist”.
“Who are they to commute the death sentence to life term when the Supreme Court has given capital punishment (to Rajoana),” Bittu had said. “He is a dreaded terrorist and should not be spared at any cost.”
Rajoana’s case can be considered for premature release as any death row convict whose sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment is liable to undergo 14 years of actual sentence and six years of remission, as per Punjab’s policy for premature release, according to jail officials. He is also entitled to benefits of parole as per law. Rajoana has been in jail for nearly 24 years.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, had said the Congress party’s stand has always “always been clear and consistent — that they should serve their full sentence” — even as he said that he is personally against capital punishment.
Rajoana was to be hanged on March 31, 2012. However, the UPA government, which was then at the Centre, had stayed the execution after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) submitted a mercy petition to the President.
21 Jan 2020
22 Jan 2020