The government told the Supreme Court on Monday that a decision on the mercy plea of Balwant Singh Rajoana, in jail for 26 years for the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, would have some some repercussions now.
Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre, sought three weeks time.
Why three weeks? What are you doing? You said you will take a decision before Republic Day… Chief Justice Bobde asked Mr. Mehta.
What are they doing? It has been 26 years of jail for him (Balwant Singh)… Your Lordships have given them (government) a long rope, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for Balwant Singh, objected to Mr. Mehtas submissions.
He is in jail for 26 years, yes, but he is in jail for the assassination of a former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Mehta responded.
The Solicitor General said the government was examining the petition.
Any decision, either way, may have some repercussions now, Mr. Mehta stressed.
The court finally gave the government two weeks.
Balwant Singhs plea for Presidential mercy has been hanging in limbo despite the government having decided over a year ago, in 2019, to spare his life in commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
In a petition to the Supreme Court from his jail cell, Balwant Singh has said his repeated pleas to the government about the fate of the mercy plea was met with silence. He called the delay inexplicable. The mercy petition was filed in 2012.
The court said the law was settled that once government decided to recommend a Presidential pardon for a condemned man, the pendency of appeals in the Supreme Court of his co-accused could not delay the process initiated under Article 72 (Presidential pardon) of the Constitution.

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