Court rules Beant Singh killer Rajoana be hanged on March 31

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A Chandigarh court ruled today that the killer of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh will be hanged as scheduled on March 31, and asked the Patiala jail to execute the death sentence...

A Chandigarh court ruled today that the killer of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh will be hanged as scheduled on March 31, and asked the Patiala jail to execute the death sentence.

Balwant Singh Rajoana is on death row for killing Beant Singh in 1995.

The court ruling came on a petition of Superintendent of Patiala Jail, Lakhwinder Singh Jhakkar. On Monday, he moved an application in the Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Shalini S Nagpal and appealed the hanging be deferred. He also returned the death warrant, which was issued by the court. The application expressed inability to execute the court order, stating a co-conspirator's appeal was pending in the Supreme Court and as per law, "it was the responsibility of the Jail Superintendent to bring it to the court's notice".

The Chandigarh court returned the execution order to the Patiala Central Jail and asked authorities to comply. The court also issued a showcause notice to Jhakkar for contempt.

The special CBI court in Chandigarh had awarded death sentence to Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara in the Beant Singh assassination case on August 1, 2007. Three others -- Lakhwinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Shamsher Singh -- were sentenced to life imprisonment for hatching the conspiracy to kill Beant Singh.

Rajoana did not appeal against the judgement nor has he filed any mercy petition. The death penalty of Hawara, who filed an appeal against it, was commuted to life sentence.

On August 31, 1995, as Beant Singh stepped out of his office at the high-security Punjab civil secretariat in Chandigarh, a suicide bomber Dilawar Singh blew himself up, killing the then chief minister and 17 others. Rajoana was the second human bomb to be used in case Dilawar had failed in his mission.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the apex religious body of Sikhs, yesterday sent a mercy petition to the President seeking clemency for Balwant Singh Rajoana even as Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said he would soon meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.