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Apex court dismisses plea to stay Rajoana's death sentence

Delhi,Immigration/Law/Rights,Terrorism, Fri, 30 Mar 2012 IANS

New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a petition seeking stay of the death sentence awarded to Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted in the 1995 assassination of then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.


An apex court bench, of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, dismissed as withdrawn the petition by advocate Abhinav Ramkrishna on the ground that the petitioner had no locus standi to make such an appeal.


The court also asked how, in a criminal matter, could a person other than the accused move the higher court seeking relief against the award of a sentence.


The court also noted that there was no pressing situation as the government had already put on hold the implementation of Rajoana's death sentence. "In the wake of the centre's decision, immediate worry is gone," the court observed.


Appearing for the petitioner advocate, senior counsel P.S. Narasimha said Rajoana has made a choice and has decided not to challenge the conviction and the sentence.


Narasimha told the court that even if Rajoana has not appealed against his conviction and sentencing, was it not the duty of the state "to exhaust all possibility of establishing the innocence or consideration of any mitigating factor before the execution of death sentence of Rajoana".


The senior counsel said that in United States right to lawyers was a matter of choice of the accused but duty of the state was that the accused's case could be legally and properly presented before the court.


Since the PIL was moved under Article 32 of the constitution, the court asked in what way the fundamental rights of the petitioner were violated in the instant case.


The petitioner in his prayer had sought direction to the government that it was a "duty of the state and the judicial system, under Article 21 of the constitution and the principle of rule of law, to ensure that death sentence under the law should be imposed only after exhausting all safeguards under the law, at all stages including trial, confirmation, appeal and beyond, irrespective of the plea or volition of the accused."


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