Patiala jail superintendent says Punjab has no territorial jurisdiction in the matter
Sarbjit Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service. Chandigarh, March 24. Citing several Supreme Court judgments and other legal arguments, the superintendent of the Patiala Central Jail today returned the death warrant of Balwant Singh Rajoana to the court of the Additional Sessions Judge in Chandigarh again.
In a letter addressed to Additional Sessions Judge Shalini Singh Nagpal, the jail superintendent has stated that there were legal infirmities in the procedure followed and that Punjab had no territorial jurisdiction in the matter.
“It is not possible to execute the warrant of prisoner Balwant Singh, which was sent to the jail vide communication dated March 19, 2012,” says the superintendent’s letter to the court.
The jail authorities have said that “it is the bounden duty of the superintendent of jail to ensure that the procedure established by the law is meticulously followed before executing the death sentence”. In reference to this assertion, the jail authorities have cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in case of Harbans Singh versus State of UP.
The superintendent has referred to the high court rules and orders that when a death sentence is confirmed by the HC, the Sessions Judge would issue the warrant of execution for the sentence to the superintendent of jail to which the prisoner was originally committed. And in case the prisoner had been transferred to another jail, the superintendent to whom the warrant was issued shall return the warrant to the Sessions Judge and a revised warrant has to be issued to the superintendent of jail in which the prisoner is confined.
“The warrants for execution of sentence of death were erroneously issued at the first instance to the superintendent of Patiala Central Jail, whereas in accordance with the rules and orders should have been addressed to the superintendent of Burail Jail as the prisoner was originally committed to its custody on July 31, 2007″, states the superintendent in the letter.
It also says that there has been no jurisdiction in the law of the state of Punjab to execute the death sentence since the offence had taken place within the jurisdiction of the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The trial was also conducted in Chandigarh and the conviction and sentence was also passed by the Additional Sessions Judge there.
The letter also refers to the pending appeals of the co-accused Lakhwinder Singh Lakha and Jagtar Singh Hawara in the Supreme Court. “The SC has in several judgments extended the benefit of acquittal or lesser sentence to the other co-accused although they had not filed an appeal”, says the superintendent in the letter. “As such it is necessary to await the outcome of the matter in the SC before executing the death warrant.”
Balwant Singh, who has been sentenced to death in the late Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh murder case, had not filed any appeal in the court to seek the commutation of his sentence. He had also not filed any mercy petition.
The Rajoana case has been in the limelight for several days. Various Panthic organisations have built a pressure on the state government led by Parkash Singh Badal to take steps to save Rajoana from the gallows. There are apprehensions that the peace, which was restored after several years in the state by paying a heavy price, can be threatened.
Rajoana Hanging; The Arguments
There has been no jurisdiction in the law of the state of Punjab to execute the death sentence since the offence had taken place within the jurisdiction of the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
The trial was also conducted in Chandigarh and the conviction and sentence was also passed by the Additional Sessions Judge there.