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Supreme Court pulls up Centre over delay in deciding on mercy plea of Balwant Singh Rajoana

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Union of India, for not taking decision on Balwant Singh Rajoana’s petition, seeking commutation of his death penalty to life imprisonment.

The Bench of Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice J.B. Pardiwala directed the Centre to file an affidavit in the matter and listed the matter for September 30.

The Apex Court pulled up the Central government for delaying the matter by more than four months, stating that the Union government was given two months time in May to decide on the mercy petition, which sought commutation on the grounds of Rajoana’s 26-year incarceration.

It said the court cannot force the Union government to take a particular decision, but the latter had to take a decision.

The top court of the country observed that once it passed a direction, the authorities would be left with no choice, but to consider the mercy plea. It further sought to know from the Centre whether the note on the issue been prepared or not.

Additional Solicitor General K.M. Natraj, representing the Union government, sought more time from the court. The Apex Court then observed that once a matter was adjourned, it went into the cycle and was likely to come only after six months.

It directed that a responsible officer of the concerned department file an affidavit, indicating the progress made in the matter and listed the same as the first item on September 30.

The top court, on May 2, had asked the Centre to decide within two months on the commutation plea filed on behalf of Rajoana in the case.

Rajoana was convicted for his involvement in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995.

Later, by way of a letter dated July 27, 2022, circulated by the Counsel for the Centre, the matter was adjourned to September 13.

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