Tribune News Service 15 March 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 killer Balwant Singh, claiming that they (Punjab) have no such understanding with the Chandigarh Administration. At present, Balwant Singh 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”.
Sources said 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. 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, sources added. 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,” they added.
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,” they said.
Shashi Kant said 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 said.
The denial to hang Rajoana has come as a major relief for the SAD-BJP government in Punjab as Sikh hardliners in the state were against the hanging of Rajoana and his hanging in the state could have drawn criticism for the newly formed SAD government.
On Tuesday, Chandigarh’s Additional District and Sessions Judge Shalini Nagpal issued Balwant Singh’s execution warrants, which were sent to the Patiala jail where he is lodged. A special court of Judge Ravi Kumar Sondhi had awarded death penalty to Balwant Singh and Jagtar Singh Hawara on July 31, 2007.
The last hanging in Punjab was executed on June 16, 1989, when two brothers from Sangrur, Gurcharan Singh and Pritam Singh, were hanged in the Central Jail Patiala. The hanging was performed by hangman Kaloo, who was specially summoned from the Tihar Jail in Delhi for the job.