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{Rajoana} plea to be treated on merit: Govt

Sunday, April 01, 2012 | 0 Comments
NEW DELHI: The Centre chose to defend the stay on the execution of Beant Singh murder conspirator Balwant Singh Rajoana clarifying that it was not an expression of opinion but clearly within the guidelines on mercy petitions.

Home minister P Chidambaram refused to comment on the political turmoil in Punjab over the execution and said that the ministry would examine Rajoana's petition on merit.

"We will examine it on merit and submit to the President of India," he said. Chidambaram said execution of a condemned prisoner has to be stayed once a mercy petition is filed before the President and it should be kept in abeyance till a decision is taken on the prayer.

He said guidelines in this regard were very clear. Once a mercy petition is filed on behalf of a sentenced prisoner, the sentence cannot be executed unless there is a decision on the mercy petition.

"So, when we got the copy of the mercy petition (of Rajoana) from the President's Secretariat, we immediately drew the attention of the government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and the instructions. By drawing the attention of government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and instructions, does not mean the Home Ministry is expressing any opinion on the merits of the mercy petition," he said.

The minister refused to comment on alleged politics being played on Rajoana's mercy petition but said a mercy petition filed on behalf of a condemned prisoner should be treated equally like the mercy petition filed by a condemned prisoner.

Chidambaram said during his tenure as a home minister, he has received 33 mercy petitions and all but one have been submitted to the President for decisions. "I think all mercy petitions are submitted, re-submitted to the President. There is only one mercy petition that is pending in the Ministry out of the total of 33 including what I got after I took over," he said.
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